The best Brunswick stew is homemade ... but the next-best is Mrs. Fearnow's out of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
On Monday, Mrs. Fearnow passed away at the age of 88 after spending over 50 years working for the company business that was begun during the Great Depression.
At our house, a bowl of Mrs. Fearnow's on a cold day is comfort food ... and growing up in Richmond I did not realize it was a regional treat -- we purchased it from Ukrop's Grocery Stores -- until as an adult I moved to North Carolina. There was no "Mrs. Fearnow's" Brunswick Stew to be found so I would stock up while in Richmond and take it back.
Mrs. Fearnow was one of the "Greatest Generation," the ones who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to survive. She worked with family members to provide extra money by selling stew during the Depression. The business quickly grew to be too much for the family kitchen so they bought a farm and cannery in Hanover.
The business stayed in the Fearnow family until 1999 when they sold it to Castleberry/Snow's Brands Inc. out of Atlanta. Even then, Mrs. Fearnow worked until the end preparing ingredients for the stew.
The funeral was to be held today in Mechanicsville.