This story appeared in The Marion Reporter in February 1955.
Tea is Good For Business.
Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Whitt of the Frances community have turned an idea into an industry. There has been much talk and quite a bit of effort of late to attract industry into Marion in order to relieve the economic slump created by the withdrawal of the fluorspar operations, and the Whitts have come up with a novel means by which they, and the town, hope to ease the situation somewhat.
Rather than sit around and wait for something to break, the Whitts capitalized on an idea that they inherited from a past member of the family. It concerns a process for refining sassafras into tea. How did the idea get going?
Well according to Mrs. Clara Lee Whitt, her husband, Oliver, was sleeping about eight hours, working about eight hours and eating about four out of every day. What with the slack season on in the sweet potato field, Oliver decided that he had about four extra hours there that were going to waste.
This is a picture of the Whitt's Old Kentucky Sassafras Tea.
Starting the Sassafras idea more as a hobby than anything else, Oliver dug the roots and used the family refining process (which he has since applied for a patent on), and started distributing the new product himself.The product is called "Old Kentucky One Minute Sassafras Tea," and has been received with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm in this area.
Most everybody is acquainted with sassafras; many of the older readers will remember it well from their childhood, for not too many years ago it was considered to have therapeutic value. Even though that kind of thinking has changed through the years, the fact remains that was sassafras in a very delightful and refreshing beverage, easily prepared and inexpensive to serve.
Old Kentucky One-Minute Sassafras Tea is an example of the kind of ingenuity that can put Marion back into a position of economic stability. With the promotion of the people of the community it can grow into a substantial supplement to the commerce of the city and county.
Local stores and merchants now have old Kentucky on their shelves.This is a picture made in front of the Kroger Store in Marion in 1955, when the first load shipment of the Whitt's Sassafras Tea arrive for sale.
According to Mrs. Whitt, their tea business didn't last too long, it was a lot of work getting it ready for sale, and someone from Tennessee had copied their tea making business and packing, so they just decided to end it.