The Peanut Butter Festival – Troy University connection

Published 7:06 pm Friday, September 22, 2023

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Now just what is the connection between the Peanut Butter Festival in Brundidge and Troy University?

With September 23 being the first day of autumn and it being peanut season for both harvesting and human consumption, that’s a question that is often asked of the Brundidge Historical Society, sponsor of the Annual Peanut Butter Festival in Brundidge. The Annual Harvest and Heritage event will celebrate 31 years the last Saturday in October.

Other than the fact that many peanut butter lovers are alumni of Troy University, dating back to Troy State College, and want to know, there are those who are just curious about the connection between the two.

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Lawrence Bowden, BHS president, said the connection between the Peanut Butter Festival and Troy University goes back to the early days of the peanut butter industry in Brundidge.

Bowden said in 1928, J.D. Johnston began making peanut butter in a crude machine in a wooden two-story building on, what was then called, Little Wall Street in Brundidge. Soon the Johnston Mill was producing two million jars of the popular foodstuff each year.

About two years later, brothers Grady and Oscar Johnson opened a peanut butter mill on the south side of town. Grady Johnson named the original butter after his children, Louis and Anne. The peanut butter became as popular around the Southeast as the kids, Louis (Buddy) and Anne, were around Pike County.

When war broke out in 1941, Louis wasn’t old enough to join the U. S. Air Corps so he joined the Canadian Air Force. Later, he was able to join the United States Air Crops as a fighter pilot and also as the private pilot for General Montgomery.

Bowden said, as a reward for his bravery during a forced landing when the general was on board, Louis was given permission to choose a design to designate the general’s plane.  He chose the Louis-Anne Peanut Butter label.

“It is doubtful that any other peanut butter has been so distinguished,” Bowden said.

After serving his country, Louis Johnson became a commercial artist in Dallas and designed and painted billboards for Coca Cola. As a young man, Louis died of tuberculosis. He is buried in Brundidge next to his dad.

The connection between the Peanut Butter Festival and Troy University is with Anise.

She married Jeff Sorrell, a wealthy farmer and timber man from Saco. They lived in Saco and had no children.

Both were dedicated to their “hometown” university.

Jeff and Anise Sorrell left a long-lasting legacy impacting thousands of students at Troy University. Their bequest of $4,500,000 in1980 laid the groundwork for the Sorrell College of Business.

In her legacy will, Anise Johnson Sorrell left the funds to build a chapel to the university and for the chapel to be dedicated to the memory of her husband, Jeff Sorrell.

And, that’s how Anise, the little girl on the Louis-Anne Peanut Butter jar, is a connection to Troy University.