East Texas foods are as
well-known as those spicy sausages, better known as “hot links,” served
at Pittsburg (the
one in East Texas).
The hot links were first sold in 1897 by Charlie Hasselback,
of German descent, who sold the uncooked links from a building on
Street to customers, who prepared the links for meals at home.
By 1918, Hasselback was serving cooked links with crackers on heavy
butcher’s paper. A special hot sauce was served in soda pop bottles.
Hasselback’s customers could eat the links on the spot or carry them
home, which became popular with the town’s housewives. In those days,
the links were sold for two for a nickel, five for a dime and a dozen
for a quarter.
The links’ reputation spread widely and railroad crews on Pittsburg’s
two lines scheduled stopovers in the town, and walked up an alley
to Hasselback’s store for noon and evening meals. So did truckers
from the main highways.
Hasselback sold his business in 1929 to O.O. Smith, who continued
to produce the links. Others also started serving hot links, and their
reputation kept spreading throughout East
Gene Warrick got into the hot link business in the 1950s, but
sold out a year later. However, by the early 1970s, Warrick was back
in business with Jimmy Brooks and they were soon serving 600
pounds of meat a week.
In 1977, Brooks became the sole owner and started serving links under
the name of JB’s Hot Links. The company was later incorporated
as Pittsburg Hot Links Packers, Inc.
Today, the company prepares and ships out 15,000 to 17,000 pounds
of hot links a week for retail sales throughout Texas.
Someone once figured out that if Pittsburg
hot links were made 40 hours a week and the production was spread
out over 24-hour days for a year, the output would average 13 raw
links a minute.
Today, other hot links are served elsewhere in East
Texas, but the links in Pittsburg
are still the champs.
Bob Bowman's East Texas
December 19, 2010Column.
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers
(Bob Bowman of Lufkin
is the author of almost 50 books about East