Maintaining the Tradition
By Sam Gazdziak, Senior Editor
Elgin Hot Sausage is still satisfying its legions of happy customers after more than a century.
Tell me about the Elgin hot sausage and what makes it so special.
Ernest Bracewell, president: It’s been around a long time, and lots of people have eaten it, and lots of people like the taste. It was always called a “hot sausage,” and I found out the reason is that it was served hot back in the early days, like on Fridays and Saturdays when the farmers would all come to market. That’s where it really got the name “hot sausage.” We’ve had to cool it down because not everybody can eat the extra-hot version.
Bryan Bracewell, general manager: The main thing is it’s an all-beef product. We use a coarse grind, and it’s got a little bit of a kick in the spice, but not too much, so everyone can enjoy it.
What other kinds of meats do you sell?
BB: Through our restaurant, we sell brisket, beef steaks, pork steaks, beef ribs, pork ribs, barbecue chicken, and of course, Elgin Hot Sausage. We also carry all the main cuts of beef, pork, and poultry in our old-fashioned meat market.
How long have you been wholesaling Elgin Hot Sausage?
EB: Since about 1972. Before that, we were mostly selling it to barbecue restaurants. We still sell it to barbecue places, but in 1972, I talked to the manager of H-E-B, and they decided to let us distribute sausage to their stores.
You’ve got to work harder to get it in the stores [than a national company], because you have to fight for the space and ensure that the product sells. Advertising has played a large role in sales.
How do you advertise?
EB: We do mostly radio commercials, but we also do some TV ads.
Where are the grocery stores located?
EB: We distribute from Waco down to San Marcos and from Burnet over to College Station.
Elgin Hot Sausage Co./Southside Market & BBQ, Elgin, TX
Plant size: 22,000 square feet
Employees: More than 60
Regional distribution: Southside Market & BBQ is located in Elgin, TX. Elgin Hot Sausage is also distributed and sold through grocery stores and restaurants in Central Texas.
Elgin Hot Sausage has been produced for more than 123 years, and the first Southside Market was started up in 1882. The restaurant has passed through several owners, but it has been managed by the Bracewell family since 1968. Elgin Hot Sausage is still made the same way as it was back in the 1880s, although some of the pepper has since been removed from the recipe. For anyone who still wants that extra kick, they can always add the company’s authentic Elgin Hot Sauce.