Tim Nutt is the interim head of special collections and more at the University of Arkansas Libraries in Fayetteville. Previously, he served as the founding managing editor and staff historian of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture and has been an Arkansas history fanatic since he was 16. He can be reached at email@example.com.
FAYETTEVILLE — May is Arkansas Heritage Month, an annual celebration of all things great about our state. Established in 1982 by the Department of Arkansas Heritage, each year the celebration has a different theme, which is intended to teach Arkansans about our history—something in which we are woefully ignorant.
This year’s Heritage Month theme is “Arkansans at Work,” and in honor of that, we’re going to pose some questions to test your knowledge of Arkansas businesses and entrepreneurs. From musicians to retailers to hunters, our state has produced some remarkable people who have achieved greatness in the business arena. Hopefully you will earn your MBA in Arkansas trivia and become the CEO of this edition of Are You Arkansavvy?
1. What Heber Springs-based company has a veritable potpourri of home-scent improving products?
2. Which discount giant started his empire with a Ben Franklin (not a C-note!) in Newport, Arkansas?
3. What happy avian — it’s not depressed at all — is produced by Terra Studios, located east of Fayetteville?
4. Which producer of oatmeal pies and zebra cakes has a young girl in a cowboy outfit as its logo and has a plant in Gentry? Giddy up.
5. Which grain was introduced to the masses in Arkansas in 1904, and is still grown by thousands of farmers, mostly in eastern Arkansas?
6. What instrument is produced by the Little Rock-based company Snazz for hunters wanting to lure Daisy or Donald?
7. Throughout the early part of the 1900s, what search for this treasure overtook “molluskular” citizens in eastern Arkansas?
8. What Arkansas-based cookie company was co-founded by the son of a 1970s-era Arkansas governor? You could say it’s been a “particularly productive venture.”
9. What colorful country trio out of south Arkansas sang the 1959 Grammy-nominated song “The Three Bells” and deserves to be in the Country Music Hall of Fame?
10. Out of 5, 46, or 70, how many years did the former slave Charlotte Stephens spend teaching in Little Rock classrooms after her emancipation?
1. Aromatique. Founded by Patti Upton in 1982, this company, with its headquarters in Cleburne County, Arkansas, sells its products in over 7,000 stores worldwide. 2. Sam Walton. Before moving to Bentonville and opening his five-and-dime store in 1951 and the first Wal-Mart eleven years later in Rogers, Walton operated a Ben Franklin store in the Jackson County town of Newport.
3. Arkansas Bluebird of Happiness. The bluebirds were first created by Leo Ward in 1982 at his Terra Studios, located in Durham, just east of Fayetteville. Since their introduction, over 9 million of these colorful glass creations have been sold. 4. Little Debbie. Though headquartered in Tennessee, McKee Foods, the maker of the Little Debbie brand, opened a plant in Gentry in 1982.
5. Rice. Although grown in Arkansas before the Civil War, it wasn’t until 1904 when the grain was grown successfully on a large-scale operation by W.H. Fuller of Carlisle (Lonoke County). That first crop produced over 5,000 bushels of rice. Today, Arkansas’s largest commercial crop is rice, and Uncle Ben and Snap, Crackle, and Pop haven’t been the same since. 6. Duck calls. Created by Jerry Bill Pendergist, these wooden works-of-art have been used successfully by hunters, but they are also collected for their beauty. 7. Pearls. In 1888, a 27 grain freshwater pearl was discovered in the White River, thus starting a pearl rush which lasted on and off into the 20th Century. The counties of Lawrence, Randolph, Independence, Woodruff and others benefited greatly from the influx of pearlers along the White, Black, and Cache rivers in northern and eastern Arkansas, among others. 8. Brent & Sam’s Gourmet Cookies. Brent Bumpers, the co-founder of the company, is the son of Gov. Dale Bumpers, who served as governor from 1971-1975, before becoming a long-serving U.S. Senator. Founded in 1985, the cookies were inspired by the recipes of Eliza Ashley, who served as the Governor’s Mansion cook for over 30 years. By the way, Brent’s mother Betty is also notable in that she helped establish Peace Links, the international organization dedicated to nuclear demobilization and world peace. 9. The Browns: Maxine, Jim Ed, and Bonnie Brown lived just outside Pine Bluff, but made frequent trips to Shreveport to appear on the Louisiana Hayride radio show. Their big professional break came in the early 1950s with Barnyard Frolics, a Little Rock-based radio show. Their first single “Looking Back to See,” released in 1954, was a hit, but 1959 turned out to be their banner year. Their single “The Three Bells” reached No. 1 on both the pop and country charts. They joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1963, and both Jim Ed and Maxine had solo careers. Even with their success, they have yet to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, which remains a glaring omission. Maxine published her acclaimed autobiography Looking Back to See in 2005 and her album Sugar Cane County remains a fan favorite. 10. 70 years. 10 At the age of 15, Charlotte Andrews Stephens began teaching in the Little Rock public schools four years after the Civil War. Born a slave, she was hired by the school district in 1869 becoming its first African-American teacher. In 1910, the LRSD named an elementary school for Stephens. Although the building has been replaced three times, the name still honors this extraordinary woman. Stephens retired from teaching in 1939 and died in 1951.