"WE DON'T HURRY IT – WE SLOW-SMOKE IT."
If you've ever found yourself traveling southbound on I-35 near the Red River, you've no doubt seen the following words painted on billboards that dot the landscape: Robertson’s Ham Sandwiches and Smoked Meats.
If you haven't, you need to pay better attention. If you have but you haven’t heeded the signs, veered off I-35 and headed into Marietta for a Robertson's smoked ham and Swiss cheese sandwich on rye bread – well, you're denying yourself a real Oklahoma tradition.
The small frontier store off I-35 has been a popular stopover for decades of hungry travelers, but our hams, beef jerky and other slow-smoked meats are how we’ve made our name.
Robertson's family-owned business has existed since 1946, when V.B. "Tup" Robertson opened his first store in downtown Marietta. In the early days, we could fit just 15 hams in our humble little smokehouse. But like our family, our business grew.
During the 1950s, we began advertising our smoked meats on highway billboards. When the early ’60s brought the building of the interstate, things changed forever for our little business. What had been seasonal spikes during the summer and around Christmas became consistent year-round business. This meant opportunities for expansion.
In addition to the company store in Marietta, there are four franchise stores in Oklahoma and Texas. They look like the company store and feature the same old-fashioned ham, turkey, bacon, sausage, pork loin and real beef jerky.
Speaking of jerky, our real beef jerky has developed into a business all its own. Back in 1976, a representative from Love's Country Stores visited our facilities. After the visit, we agreed to offer our beef jerky in a few of Love’s stores. It was an overwhelming success. Now, years later, our beef jerky is featured in all of the almost 500 Love's Country Stores, and we sell to distributors in Arizona, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida, in addition to Oklahoma and Texas.
THE LEGACY LIVES ON
Today, Robertson's gets beef from Texas and Kansas, turkeys from Arkansas and Missouri, and pork from Iowa and Oklahoma. All of our lean, high-quality meats are smoked and sold with the Robertson's label. The plant is a 31,000-square-foot facility with 16 smokehouses. There, meat cuts are seasoned and cured for a week, and then sliced, smoked and packaged. During the process, hams are hand-rubbed with cure, removing as much water as possible, unlike many commercially processed hams that are heavy with moisture. As far as smoke goes, nothing beats hickory wood – it simply adds a better flavor.
Many of our customers are lifelong friends, and the tradition of personal contact goes way back to the days when customers had to mail us their orders. It’s a little easier now – with modern technology, you can make purchases from our website and join over 22,000 mail-order customers by visiting us online – but that personal touch and family name live on today.