Heard on the street: The Brunswick stew mystery

A popular brand of Brunswick stew that was born in Mechanicsville might have reached its shelf life — at least temporarily.

Mrs. Fearnow’s Brunswick Stew — yes, the one in the yellow can — was taken off some local supermarket shelves as of about three months ago, according to a reader who emailed in and wondered whether the brand had been discontinued.

BizSense did some digging to find out what’s happening with ol’ Mrs. Fearnow and the stew that was first cooked up locally 70 years ago.

A manager at the Atlee Road Kroger in Mechanicsville said that production of the stew stopped and that the store has been out for a couple of months.

Carl York, public affairs manager for Kroger, said that the supplier temporarily stopped producing the brand but recently ramped back up and will continue to distribute the product to stores.

“It wasn’t discontinued,” York said.  “For whatever reason, the supplier shut down production of it temporarily. Shoppers should still be able to buy it.”

York didn’t have details on why the supplier stopped producing the stew.

The canned stew was originally made by Lillie Pearl Fearnow, who cooked it up on Hope Farm in Hanover County in the 1940s.

Fearnow’s children started Fearnow Bros. Inc. at a plant in Mechanicsville that canned the stew. It was later run by the grandchildren until it was bought by Castleberry in 1999.

Bumble Bee Foods acquired Castleberry/Snow Brands in December 2005, and Castleberry was shut down by the FDA in 2008.

Bost Distributing Company bought the Mrs. Fearnow’s Brunswick Stew brand from Bumble Bee in 2007, according to its website.

The Sanford, N.C.-based company produces and markets various food products, such as Patterson’s Hot Dog Chili and Harold’s Crab Soup.

Calls to Bost Distributing were not returned Tuesday. Stew-lovers can still purchase Mrs. Fearnow’s through the company’s website.

David Stanley, a manager at the Food Lion on Courthouse Road, said the  store was out of the stew for a while but is once again receiving it.

“As of right now, I haven’t heard anything about them discontinuing it,” he said.

Both the Martin’s in Sycamore Square in Midlothian and the Kroger on Mechanicsville Turnpike are still carrying the product.

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96 Comments on "Heard on the street: The Brunswick stew mystery"

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RobinsonSt
Guest

There wasn’t any Mrs Fearnow’s at the Kroger in Carytown last week. I was given a story similar to what the Atlee Rd Kroger said in this article.

Scott
Guest

The history shows why it is not the same quality product it was 15 years ago.

Michael C
Guest

Earlier this week I went to 4 grocery stores looking for it with no luck. I was finally able to find a small stockpile at a local corner store in the fan. I purchased their entire stock of it!

Brett
Guest

Agreed, Scott, I think they have doubled the salt since the last person took over. When I was growing up this was a staple in my house, but now, it’s so salty I can’t get thru one bowl. Another quality American product destroyed by corporate greed.

Joshua Bilder
Guest

I agree too. Things went down hill when they decided to use chicken instead of the traditional squirrel meat. But seriously, they doubled the salt and got rid of most of the chicken. Instead of the owners hiring some consulting group to figure out why they’re product isn’t selling they shouldn’t buy as much salt and start buying more chicken. Good reporting Biz Sense!

Paula McMillan
Guest

Please tell me where you got the idea that they use squirrel meat in Mrs. Fearnow’s brunswick stew. Just the thought may turn me off from eating it even if I’m able to find it again.

Sue Sturtz
Guest

I tried to buy it yesterday. I went to Wal-Mart(Mechanicsville), Food Lion (301) and finally Kroger (Atlee). The manager at Kroger told me that Heinz purchased Mrs. Fearnow’s and had discontinued it. I’m was not convinced that he had accurate information about the product. None of these grocers had it in stock or felt like they would be getting any.

Linda Dunn
Guest

I was wondering what happened to the stew. I went to Kroger-Gayton crossing as well as the Martins there , Foodlion Ridgefield & Quaccisan, Merchants walk and martins at John Rolf and no stew. The mng. at Martins said it was on backorder so if anyone finds it email me. I see it is sold on amazon so I am gonna check that out and see.I do agree it is not the same taste as my childhood but my Husband still loves it …so for him I will try and find it.

P.Robertson
Guest

Sam’s Club still carried it in VA

Linda Dunn
Guest

Ok just checked out Amazon and they say in stock but its 35.97 for a 8 pack plus 17.70 for shipping also checked out walmart and the Brook road & Glenallen store say out of stock but the Parham rd said instock so I am off to see if thats true…wish me Luck.

Linda Dunn
Guest

Correction, I checked out the website for walmart and thats what they say…didnt want anyone to think I am driving all over Richmond to find this…not happening even for my Honey…LOL

Linda Dunn
Guest

Walmart website is wrong as Walmart at Parham does not have it stock.

Mark Scott
Guest
I think it was when Castleberrry bought it in 1999 that the brand really went downhill. Along with the reduction in chicken noted above, I think some vegetables were dropped, and the stew took on a very salty, tomato-ey flavor that it didn’t have before. It was definitely noticeable. I started to write the company about it but then when looking on the can for the address I saw that it had been bought by Castleberry. Knowing of the poor quality of Castleberry food that explained it all for me. Bost Distributing should contact someone from the Fearnow family and… Read more »
Dana Dawson
Guest

It has been discontinued at Food Lion.

Brent Carter
Guest

As of today, I am still unable to find the stew in any stores.

henry b
Guest

can’t find it anywhere in Tri-Cities, wish C F Sauer or someone around here would buy it and produce it, A great brand shot to hell and can’t get a straight answer out of Bost

Barbara Lucas
Guest

How can I place an order for the Mrs. Fearnow brunswick stew w/chicken????????

Cori Bider
Guest

You can find it at the Price Costco on Broad!! Bost Distributing Co. Inc will also take an order for it….919-774-1627, but don’t pay with an echeck – it will take forever to receive your order. 🙂

Chip C.
Guest

Thank you for the info! I agree it isn’t as good as it used to be, but I still like it!

I checked a couple of central VA stores recently and had no luck, so I Googled it and found Bost Distributing. Although shipping is expensive, the base price is much lower than the store prices. With the least expensive shipping option the total price was about the same as the prices I was paying in the stores, maybe even a little less!

Karen Lewicki
Guest

Not feeling well today so of course I want some Mrs. Fernow’s stew. Thank goodness my husband likes to shop. He went to about every grocery store in our area and ended up at Fresh Market and paid almost $10.00 for two cans. After googling it doesn’t t sound too good.

S.G.
Guest

Thanks for the info. I could find it here in Virginia Beach at Food Lion and the Commissary up until sometime last year… just went looking for it again recently and I couldn’t find it and started wondering if they had stopped making it. This article explains some, but wondering if they are ever going to be selling it here in Hampton Roads again?? It’s the only canned soup I really like to eat.

Paul
Guest

I have been buying it from Bost Distributing in Sanford , NC for a few years now. The price for shipping is a little high so if you are going through Sanford, NC it might pay you to drop in and buy some.

Paul
Guest

P.O. Box 447
Sanford, NC 27331
If you have any questions concerning this invoice, contact us immediately:

Phone: (919) 775.5931

FAX: (919) 774.1627

E-mail: [email protected]

Website: shop.BOSTDISTRIBUTINGCOMPANY.COM

Paula McMillan
Guest

I have been driving myself crazy trying to find some cans of Mrs. Fearnow’s brunswick stew and am glad to know that I’m not alone. I am 53 and have been eating her stew since I was 15 and am having serious withdrawal. I agree they need to bring it back with it’s original family recipe but please use chicken and not squirrel.

Richard
Guest

I got some about 2 weeks ago at the colonial heights wal-mart if it helps anyone in their search for stew. Just about to heat up a can, as a matter of fact.

John Ayers
Guest

I need my stew–I grew up on it and have continued to eat it at least once a week into my seasoned age of 49. Please put it back in all grocery stores across Richmond–I am having withdrawal symptoms.

Roger Shope
Guest

4/12/12 Just got off the phone with Bost Distributing Co. in Sanford, NC. The can brunswick stew’s picture (Mrs. Fearnow’s) is on the web site but you can’t order it, as it is not available to select as a product for the shopping cart. The lady said it is not being manufactured at this time. She said they planned to bring it back – but could offer no details as to when. So for now, I guess we are all “just outta’ luck”.

william james
Guest

I went to the local store and notice plenty of this good old stew on the shelfs. I got all of it and now i’m fixing me a can. Its so good and yummy. I hope they dont run out of it for a long time. My grandma said to buy her 3 can. I did.

william james
Guest

what?!

Kate
Guest

We had a hard time finding it this winter but stumbled upon some. I was ill and that was the only thing that sounded good. I was concerned however, because 6 months prior, I’d gone vegetarian. I laughed when we opened the can of stew and said, “well, being vegetarian and eating this stew does not seem to be an issue” (almost no meat) !!!… I miss it and am still trying to find it.

Jewel Denton
Guest

Does anyone know what stores are selling this now? I have called so many local stores and they have not been able to get it in.

This is the best canned stew I have ever eatten.

Anne
Guest

I can’t find it in the West End. Really miss it.

Earl Starling
Guest

I’ve been all over Rocky Mount N.C. looking for this great stew , none to be found,that is very sad .I’ve been eating this stew for as long as I can remember,and I’m fifty nine.The family probley don’t have any rights to the stew anymore,Just wish somebody can get it back on the shelves.

debbie soth
Guest

Please bring back this stew!

Brenda Wilborn
Guest

WOW I thought I was crazy for looking every where for this stew but I am glad to know I am not the only one who craves it and loves this stew. I have been looking for months with no luck sure would love to have a bowl with some cheese toast best combo in the world

Greg
Guest

Talked to manufacturer and they do plan to make the stew again. They hope to begin in August 2012, but don’t have a hard date yet. They said that there are tons of calls for the product. Hopefully by this Winter we will have some hot stew to warm us.

Faye
Guest

Thanks, Greg, for the update. I too have been looking everywhere I go for this stew with no luck. I just emailed Bost asking about it. Hopefully with all the questions and requests being received, they will produce it again. Will look forward to August!

Lee
Guest

I was able to purchase two cans at the Food Lion in Newark De. this weekend. I hope they plan on bringing back in August

kyle
Guest

Found a Walmart that had some and I bought 100lbs of it. That is all I was allowed to check-in on the airplane. 🙂

janet
Guest

My sister moved to FL (they don’t sell it there) and is in the hospital– she asked me to bring her some on my visit ——went to 3 stores — none found !! now they don’t sell it here in Richmond VA 🙁
Please start production again !!

Bernice
Guest

What is the matter with you people. MAKE THE STEW before we all die. I really miss it.

Rita
Guest

Wow — I thought we were the only people having trouble getting this delicious staple back in our pantry. Harris Teeter and Food Lion no longer have it. The only Brunswick Stey they carry has beef in it.
I might have to break down and make it from scratch.
We want our Mrs Fearnow’s back!!!

Roxanne
Guest

Judging from the above, I think you guys would be better served to go on the website and actually write the company, maybe even include a link to this page, requesting they distribute it again in the Richmond area. Too bad I don’t have the recipe. Guess I’d be a rich woman judging from all the outrage over this stuff. 🙂

Bill
Guest

I just went to the website….it’s not even available there!! We love that stew……please bring it back!

Bill Townson
Guest

F Y I; I just went to Bost’s web sit and found nothing about being able to order the Brunswick stew!
I had sent emails to Bost in the past inquiring about the situation but no reply!
As several replies mention, the stew was not as good once Castleberry bought it, and even worse once Bumble Bee bought Castleberry.
Still, it’s the best I could find in the marketplace and is, to me, better than nothing!
Ifv anyone finds out what is going on, I would appreciate a “heads up”!

Jo
Guest

I live in coastal NC and can’t find it either. We had our last can from the pantry tonight. We also noticed a big difference in the past few years….too salty, veggies aren’t the same and there seems to be a thickening agent used now, such as corn starch or flour. The texture is different. I can’t understand why anyone would have to change a good thing. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (in fact, don’t even mess with it!!)

Peggy C. Wyrick
Guest

We were introduced to Mrs. Fearnow’s Brunswick Stew by my husband’s cousin (deceased) who lived in Mechanicsville. We loved it. Now we can’t find it in any store. Why would it be discontinued when so many desire to buy it?

Harold Butts
Guest

IGA and Food Lion have been out of stock for sometime in our area (central NC). Looking to buy online but no success in getting to right site to order. Help.

Sally M Robinson
Guest

What a surprise to find so many people love this product and have been searching for the stew.I have looked for a month and tried trusty Goggle and found out the story.I am hopeful after reading all this that it will come back due to popular demand!

Betsy Berna
Guest

I loved Mrs. Fearnow’s growing up and when I moved to the west coast I had it shipped. My whole family loved it. But the current Mrs. Fearnow’s is terrible. Too much tomato sauce, big potatoes and salt. Lots of missing vegetables. I don’t have it shipped anymore and am trying to find a good Brunswick stew recipe.

robin
Guest

Last I saw in stores it was $ 4 something a can which was ridiculous.. at that price no wonder they are out of business or quit production.. they need to lower the price on it

Elizabeth Wilson
Guest

I agree with everyone that the stew is not as good as it was when the Fearnow Family was making it…I’m just gonna get out my recipe and make it myself and freeze bags of it…I have made it before and it was just like Mrs. Fearnow’s, but it was easier to buy in a can….oh well I like to cook, it should be fun.

Clay Ellis
Guest

Good News, The stew has returned. I was in both the Walmart store on Parham road and the Martin’s Store in Glen Allen and both stores had cans of Mrs. Fearnows Bruinswick Stew. They did not have the large cans but did have the regular size, I bought 6 cans at Walmart (about 40-50 cents cheaper). So hopefully Bost distributioning has finally restarted production. Hope the stew has reappeared elsewhere.

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