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Tuttle Barn

On The Road: The Adventures of Bone Suckin' Sauce

Our latest travels to the New York Fancy Food show gave us the opportunity and pleasure of meeting Lucy A. Tuttle.  Lucy and Sandi, Ford’s Gourmet Foods founder, met on the bus on the way over to the food show and hit it off immediately.  Lucy told Sandi that Tuttle’s Red Barn, Lucy’s family farm, was the oldest family farm in America.  Here at Ford’s there is nothing more important than family, hard work and quality.  We have found a kindred spirit in the Tuttle Family and it is important to us to acknowledge a great American family.

Tuttle’s Red Barn was established in 1632.  In order to provide some context around how long ago that was I did some research about what was going on in the year 1632.  In 1632, Galileo published his book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which refuted the belief that the Earth was the center of the universe.  Tuttle’s Red Barn has survived every war in American history including the: American Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II.  George Washington was president 157 years after the Tuttle family farm was established.  We encourage you to read a little of their history below and visit their website at

375 Years on the Tuttle Farm

The Tuttle Farm of Dover, New Hampshire, is the oldest continually operating family farm in the United States, having passed down through 11 generations from father to son since the 1630’s when John Tuttle arrived in the New World bearing a land grant from King Charles II.  John’s arrival was not without incident. The day after he and his fellow-passengers disembarked from the ship that had brought them across the ocean from Bristol, England (a 3 month journey), a ferocious hurricane swept up the Atlantic coast, wreaking havoc along

the shores of Long Island and southern New England, then on up the coast of what is now Maine, sinking the ship along with all of the passengers’ worldly goods, and taking the lives of several crew members who were attempting to save the vessel.  John eventually made his way from Pemaquid to Dover Point, and joined the settlement there.  His land grant was several miles north of the settlement, so he and the other settlers would walk north along the “High Road” (Dover Point Road) to clear the land and begin to tame the soil until it was suitable for growing crops and sustaining livestock, returning each night to the settlement for community and safety.  The first two generations of Tuttles lived this way until a log cabin was eventually built for the third generation Tuttle on the actual land grant.

Several generations lived in this cabin until the 1780’s, when the present farmhouse was built to accommodate the growing number of family members.  During these years, Tuttles grew, hunted and fished for whatever they needed to sustain themselves, bartering and trading with neighbors, and selling any surplus to “townsfolk.”  It has been said that the only food they had to buy was salt.  Everything else came from the land, their animals, or from the abundance of wildlife in the surrounding area.  Lobsters, clams and oysters were used to fertilize the fields, and manure was “locally produced” by their own animals.  The Tuttles experimented with growing cranberries (a total failure) and built glass greenhouses in the 1890's (among the first in New Hampshire) to get an early jump on spring planting, and to grow annual flowers for sale. In the 1950’s, several irrigation ponds were dug to ensure a reliable source of water for the crops.  Over the years, adjoining farmland was purchased from those who no longer had the heart for the long hours and fickle climate and who wished to try their luck elsewhere.  Increased acreage enabled the family to produce more than they needed, and a thriving wholesale business was started by 9th generation William Penn in the early 1900’s.  He established quite a reputation in Dover and the surrounding towns for high quality produce, and people looked forward to Tuttle corn, tomatoes, lettuce and a myriad of other crops grown on the farm, harvested first thing in the morning, meticulously washed and packed in the “washhouse” and delivered to local stores by horse and wagon, and later in the “jimmy,” Penn’s Model T.

In the 1950’s, as chain supermarkets began to force “mom-and-pop” stores out of business, it became apparent that the wholesale business that Penn had nurtured would no longer be enough to sustain the farm. Chain stores were not looking for quality in their produce so much as year-round availability and long shelf-life.  10th generation Hugh and his wife Joan saw an opportunity to open a roadside stand in an old barn that was used for storage of farm equipment, and Tuttle’s Red Barn was born.  Open seasonally, it served as the outlet for all the farm was able to produce, and attracted a large following of customers who were familiar with Tuttle quality.  During the 1960’s and 70’s, the Barn grew in popularity, and as more and more products were added to the mix to accommodate people’s needs, the Barn was modified and enlarged a number of times, eventually remaining open year-round, with produce brought in from outside in the off season.  In the late 1980’s, a new Red Barn was built adjoining the old building. Over the years, the Tuttles have nurtured the land they love, doing what has been necessary to provide a place for future generations to carry on the family tradition. Oh, by the way, they sell Bone Suckin’ Sauce!
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