In 1917, Eugenia Duke began selling her signature spread sandwiches to World War I soldiers stationed at Camp Sevier – just outside Greenville, South Carolina. Eugenia’s spreads were all made with her family’s homemade mayonnaise recipe. They were an instant hit, and in the spring of 1919, Eugenia Duke sold over 10,000 of her sandwiches in one day.
In 1929, following the popularity of her sandwiches, Eugenia sold her mayonnaise recipe to C. F. Sauer, who established the Duke Mayonnaise factory currently located in Mauldin, South Carolina.
She also sold the recipes for her spreads to Alan Hart, her bookkeeper. Hart established a wholesale market for the sandwiches by selling them to company stores in textile mills, such as Dunean and Judson Mills. The mills sold the sandwiches to their workers on carts known as “Dope Wagons,” which offered lunch, snacks, and beverages. Hart also sold Duke Sandwiches to local drug store merchants, including Campbell’s, Carpenter Brother’s, and Community Drugs; these drug stores offered Duke Sandwiches to patrons of their soda fountains.
Alan Hart sold the Duke Sandwich Company in 1964 to his wife’s brother, Loran Smart. With the help of his wife, Estaleen Smart, Loran developed a much larger market for the business. As the demand for Duke sandwiches increased, Loran Smart modified a machine to automatically wrap each sandwich. This allowed the Smart family to make a larger quantity of sandwiches while maintaining Duke’s standards of traditional quality and freshness.
Loran and Estaleen Smart’s son, Richard Smart, took over the family business in 1978. Over the next thirty years, Richard transformed the company from strictly wholesale by establishing several restaurant locations throughout Upstate South Carolina. Throughout these changes, Richard Smart remained true to the family tradition by retaining the original recipes and using only the freshest ingredients possible.
In 2002, the family business changed hands again. Richard Smart’s wife, Cheryl Smart, became president of the company, taking charge of the three Duke Sandwich Company locations in the Upstate.
Duke Sandwich Productions, Inc. opened a brand new, state-of-the-art USDA/FDA manufacturing plant in Simpsonville, SC in 2006. With the aid of this manufacturing facility, Duke Sandwich products are now offered in regional grocery store chains. This facility was instrumental in getting the manufacturing side of the business up and running. Within a short six years, the manufacturing business exceeded all expectations and the ability to continue growing at this facility was becoming maxed out. The decision to expand our facilities was looming.
In 2012, Duke Sandwich Productions, Inc. purchased an 80,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Easley, SC. This facility is also a brand new, state-of-the-art USDA/FDA manufacturing plant. This facility increases our square footage four fold and our manufacturing capabilities eight fold and will allow us to produce products for grocery chains and restaurants nationwide. We look forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.