RV Sidetrip: Wewahitchka, Fla. and Tupelo Honey

My honey bought a lot of honey. So much, in fact, that the credit card company refused the sale, thinking no one would buy that much honey in  in a place called Wewahitchka, Fla.

But that’s what Jennifer did. After buying a whole bunch of honey for us at Smiley Honey, our friends and family, she returned in less than an hour and bought a whole bunch more. That’s when the credit card company balked.

We eventually straightened everything out with the credit card company. Yes, she indeed did make two big orders of honey, I told them when they called to check. I won’t share here how much honey she bought, except to say that its a good thing the Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL we have has that extra foot and a half or so of storage length.

But this wasn’t just any honey, mind you. This was Tupelo Honey.

tubelohoney

Tupelo Honey? Doesn’t that belong in Tupelo, Miss.? Nope. If you buy honey labeled Tupelo Honey in Tupelo, Miss., it came from from the area around Wewahitchka.

The honey comes from nectar collected by bees from the white tupelo trees that thrive in the many rivers, lakes and wetlands of Gulf County, Florida, around the tiny town of Wewahitchka, which is the center of Tupelo Honey production in the U.S. “Wewahitchka” is a Seminole name that means “water eyes” — a reference to the many lakes in the area. The Apalachicola and Chipola river basins, which run from North to South in Gulf County, contain some of the highest concentrations of tupelo trees in the world.

Smiley Honey
Smiley Honey

We heard about Tupelo honey from Dave and Georgia Greens, a St. Charles, Mo. RVing couple we got to chatting with at the Ho-Hum RV Resort near Carrabelle, Fla., on the Gulf Coast. They told us they were making an excursion to Wewahitchka the next morning, some 70 miles north and east, because Smiley’s Tupelo Honey was not only world famous but — if you bought it at the factory — much more reasonably priced.

Some places in the area were charging as much as $25 a pound for Tupelo Honey, they explained. At Smiley, it was available for $10 a pound.

tubelosign

Why does it cost so much? Because Tupelo Honey comes from the green-white blossom of the white tupelo gum tree (Nyssa Ogeche). These blossoms are notoriously fragile, and the weather must be just right to produce an abundant honey crop. In good years, tupelo trees will bloom for only a few weeks. In bad years, the nectar flow is over in a few days. Years of experience and good beekeeping skills are required to produce great Tupelo Honey.

We made the trip the next day and had a honey tasting. Shirley Williams, the manager, gave us a tour of the factory and explained all about honey production. They she whipped out some tiny little plastic spoons and started pouring.

tubelotaste

Smiley Honey sells honey from wildflowers, blackberries, holly, cotton, orange blossoms and sourwood. We loved every spoonful. But it was the Tupelo Honey that rocked our world.

The color of Tupelo Honey ranges from Extra White to White, and has a cloudy, greenish hue when held up to the light. Tupelo Honey has an amazing flavor. Have you heard Tim McGraw’s popular song “Southern Girl?” There’s a line in the song about “kisses sweeter than Tupelo Honey.”

Tupelo Honey is lip smackin’ sweet. It has a bright and unique floral burst that dissolves easily on the tongue, and has a very pleasing finish. It has a dewy freshness that contrasts starkly with over-processed, common honey varieties you buy at supermarkets.

tubelobees

Shirley explained how raw honey is a wonderful gift from nature. Not only does it taste great, but the health benefits of raw honey are well-documented. It is a powerful antioxidant, it boosts the immune system, it promotes better digestion, and helps to regulate cholesterol and sugar levels (among other things). Many honey lovers also report that local, raw honey helps to treat seasonal allergies. Raw honey is loaded with beneficial enzymes, pollen, vitamins and minerals, which we preserve through minimal processing.

As owner Brian D. Bertonneau says, “healthy living and raw honey go together like summer and sunshine.”

tubelocomb

And their all-natural, raw honey is about as close as you can get to reaching into a beehive and grabbing a handful of golden goodness.

They bottle and sell raw honey only. It comes to you exactly as the bees made it. They do warm the honey slightly (to approximately 100 to 110 degrees) to facilitate bottling, and they strain out bits and pieces of beeswax and miscellaneous bee parts.

There are a couple of aviaries out front and you can watch the happy and busy bees doing their thing. There’s plenty of parking for RVs. They love visitors and are generally open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (central time). But you should call ahead to be sure, because they are sometimes closed for one reason or another (like delivering honey, visiting with beekeepers, or maybe even fishing).

You can learn more about honey, get contact info and even order online by visiting the Smiley Honey website at http://www.smileyhoney.com

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “RV Sidetrip: Wewahitchka, Fla. and Tupelo Honey”

  1. I can’t believe you wrote this whole post without mentioning Van Morrison even one time. 🙂

    Thanks for an interesting article, Mike.

  2. Backroad Planet

    We drove through Wewahitchka last spring break, Mike, but everything was closed. It must have been on a Sunday. Have you seen the movie Ulee’s Gold starring Peter Fonda that was shot on location there?

  3. My DH bought me my first Tupelo honey about 10 years ago and after that I “discovered” Smiley’s after reading “Robbing the Bees, A Biography of Honey” by Holly Bishop (which is very interesting culturally, historically, and practically). Also, you missed one of the best things about Tupelo Honey: it doesn’t ever crystalize!
    ECRyder (Entegra Anthem, RBQ)

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