Allan Benton has been making country hams and bacon since 1973. His business, Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams, is located on Highway 411 in Madisonville, Tennessee.

"We constantly refer to ourselves here as hillbillies,” explains Benton. “We wear that moniker proudly. The food I make was literally sustenance food for poor Appalachians. The recipe came straight from the log smokehouse behind the house I was born in."

Benton inherited the business that had originally started back in 1947 by the late Albert H. Hicks, a dairy farmer who began curing and selling country hams out of a painted block building. Allan Benton and his employees have honed the dry-curing of hams and bacon into a culinary art and have catapulted the products from a simple breakfast mainstay into the world of gourmet cooking, where they have been praised for their characteristic flavor.

"This is a product of a hundred years ago and it's kinda been rediscovered and people like it and we proudly wear that hillbilly moniker.”

The bacon produced in Madisonville is shipped across the United States. Chefs at high-end restaurants from New York to San Francisco, use it to complement some of their most extravagant dishes. In addition to its bold, smoky flavor, industry professionals seek out Benton’s Bacon for another reason.

"My bacon is made with only salt and brown sugar,” says Benton. “No nitrates, no nitrite, no nothing you can't pronounce. It's a very natural product, very intense in flavor and we're blessed that people like that big, bold flavor we produce."

Benton's Country Hams and Bacon are available either unsmoked or hickory-smoked. Hickory smoking is performed in a small, wood stove smokehouse behind the business, imparting a distinct smoked flavor that many customers prefer.

For more information about the business, or for directions, click here.