On a recent trip to Tennessee, I visited the epicenter of Bush’s® Beans in Chestnut Hill, which is approximately forty miles from Knoxville. The visitor center, housed in the original A.J. Bush & Company general store, founded in 1897, stands across the road from the Bush’s historic farmhouse. On the rolling hills surrounding the home, cattle munched grass and ambled across the wide space.
Once inside the visitor center, I picked up a reproduction of a vintage tablecloth in the impressive gift shop. (I collect old tablecloths but rarely use them, due to their age. This one—robin blue with a red flower and raspberry design is currently the centerpiece of my dining table.)
The center houses a free museum with tons of interactive displays that kids were loving. Many were having their photo taken in front of a backdrop showing Duke, the famous Bush’s® mascot. Photos are printed on site and sent home with the bean enthusiast. Several kids were being weighed on a scale that calculates weight in beans instead of pounds, and still more were walking through the giant Bush’s® Baked Bean can that shows the journey of the beans from beginning to end.
In the theater, a group was watching the film that tells the history of the Bush family. Included is a collection of the popular commercials featuring Duke, back when he was conspiring to sell the secret family recipe. It also showed the workings of the nearby processing plant. A lot of water is used to clean and cook the beans, and after its use inside the plant, it’s diverted to the hills and pastures where the cows now roam happily.
Finally, I made my way to the Bush’s® Family Café, where I ordered locally-sourced barbecue, beans (of course!), and sweet potato fries. Before I finished, Manager Max Fultz brought out their Pinto Bean Pie. I was reluctant to taste it; however, Max convinced me to dig in. The pie was surprisingly good and tasted a lot like pecan pie.
Want to try it yourself? Then you’re in luck! Here’s the recipe, just for you.
- 1 pie crust, unbaked
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup margarine, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¾ cup Bush’s® Pinto Beans, heated and lightly mashed
- ½ cup pecans, finely chopped
- 2 eggs, well beaten
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Center of pie will be slightly unset.
This pie will certainly be a conversation starter! If you make this, we’d love to see your photos. Email us at