By Cindy Jo Ayers
Hundreds of Old Fashioned Smoked Hams are sold each year at the SunStop (Scaff’s) Market in Bell. In fact, if you go into the store during the holiday season you can smell the slight hint of hickory smoke in the air. For those customers who have been buying these special double smoked hams for years, this is the season to take home a ham.
Chris Sandlin, the meat market manager and his crew have been busy for weeks now smoking these hams. Chris said, a special rub is applied to each ham and then it takes about eight hours to smoke them. Each ham is hung with care from a string in the smoke house for the long wood smoking process. Chris said, W.A. Arrington taught him the skills to become a butcher and how to run a meat market. In 1995, he taught Chris how to smoke these special hams.
W.A. began smoking those hams over 35 years ago in Bell. He recalls, one busy season when the store sold 350 boxes of hams, each box contained 4 hams. He said the process was very labor intensive, but he was glad Chris was continuing the tradition in Bell. Back in the day, these hams were known as Bell Hams and Bell Smoked Sausage and the store was known as Bell Supermarket.
Today, during the busy holiday season, Chris and his team smoke and sell hundreds and hundreds of hams from the Bell store. This year they have already filled an order from one customer for 100 hams. Chris said, “People come from Tampa, Crystal River and all over to get their Thanksgiving or Christmas hams here in Bell.” He recalls, a few years ago when they shipped a ham all the way to California. They also sell a large quantity of their smoked link sausage this time of year which people give as Christmas gifts.
Those who have spent a lifetime in the county will remember that long before Bell Supermarket’s time the town was known for the excellent smoked sausage made by Otis Akins in his grocery store which is located where the NAPA store is today.
This long history of good meat in Bell continues today because of the hard work of Chris Sandlin and his very capable team, which includes Mike, Brody, Justin, Carl, and Payton.
The SunStop Market in Bell is located at 929 South Main Street in Bell and they can be reached at 352-463-6282.
Old Fashioned Smoked Hams a longtime Bell tradition
By Cindy Jo Ayers