Conecuh Sausage: An Alabama Tailgating Tradition
Saturday mornings in the fall, as the light of dawn greets tailgating tents and leaves crackle underfoot, the air is filled with the aroma of grills being lit. Over the course of the day, those grills will be covered in meats and vegetables galore, but inevitably one of the items will be links of the celebrated local sausage called Conecuh.
Conecuh Sausage, made in Evergreen and named after the southern Alabama county that it calls home, is a local tradition any time of year, but especially during game time. The sausage company has a long history, having been in business since 1947. In fact, it started life at a time when locals didn’t have much refrigeration, so the company offered cold storage for people to preserve their home-grown vegetables and meats.
Henry Sessions, a WWII vet, started what was then called Sessions Quick Freeze to give area residents a place to bring their pigs and cattle, have them slaughtered and store their meat (along with their garden harvests) in a rentable cold locker.
At the same time, Sessions was developing a recipe for hickory-smoked pork sausage, a product that ended up putting his company on the map. Word got around and the demand for Sessions’ delicious sausage grew to the point where the family was butchering 250 hogs a week. It wasn’t until 1986 that the family-owned company turned its focus on production, converting its facility to produce a small selection of high-quality pork sausages.
Available in six flavors, the sausages are made with natural hog or sheep casings and smoked over a real hickory fire. The spice blend is patented, but all the sausages are low in sodium and gluten-free. Among the varieties of sausage available are hickory smoked (their all-natural original smoked sausage), Spicy & Hot and Cajun flavor (think gumbo!).
Today, Conecuh Sausage Company operates out of a state-of-the-art production facility that was completed in 2014, increasing the speed and capacity of production. The 100-employee company produces 35,000 to 40,000 pounds of sausage per week, and is run by Sessions’ son, John Crum Sessions, and grandson, John Henry Sessions.
You can find Conecuh all across the South, plus as far west as Colorado and as far north as Wisconsin. Its wide availability is proof that even if people can't agree on "Roll Tide" or "War Eagle," they can agree that the hickory-smoked flavor of Conecuh sausages is a mighty fine thing to have on your grill.