Honoring a Greenville Legend
—Founder of Duke's Mayonnaise & Duke Sandwich Co. —
· Eugenia Thomas Slade Duke is born on October 20, 1881 in Columbus, Georgia. She marries Harry Cuthbert Duke on April 30, 1900. Together with their only child, Martha, the family moves to Greenville in 1917.
· The United States enters World War I, and an influx of soldiers arrives in Greenville to train at Camp Sevier. Wanting to give the soldiers a taste of home, Eugenia launches Duke Sandwich Company three years before women gained the right to vote.
· Eugenia's chicken salad, egg salad and pimento cheese sandwiches are a hit, selling for a dime a piece. After her 10,000th sandwich sale, Eugenia invests in her first delivery truck.
· After the war ends, Eugenia begins selling her sandwiches at local drug stores, including Carpenter Brothers, Community Drug Store and Greenville Pharmacy.
· Eugenia converts the first floor of Greenville's historic Ottaray Hotel (where the Hyatt stands today) into Duke's Tea Room where she sells her sandwiches and a variety of side dishes.
· At the urging of her top salesman, C.B. Boyd, Eugenia opens an office on South Main Street in Greenville's West End and begins producing her original mayonnaise in an old coach factory building next to the Reedy River (known today as the Wyche Pavilion).
Duke's Mayonnaise is a big success, so Eugenia decides to sell the sandwich company to her accountant, Alan Hart, to focus her attention solely on the mayonnaise business.
· Eugenia sells her mayonnaise recipe to the Virginia-based C.F. Sauer Company, serving as the company's spokeswoman until relocating to California to be closer to her daughter and grandchild.
· Always the businesswoman, Eugenia revives her sandwich enterprise in California, under the aptly named Duchess Sandwich Company.
· Throughout the 1960s, The C.F. Sauer Company continues to grow Duke's distribution and popularity, developing it into the brand you know and love today.
· In 1964, Alan Hart sells Duke Sandwich Company to his wife's brother, Loran Smart, who modifies a machine to automatically wrap the sandwiches.
· Eugenia Duke dies on February 26, 1968, in Alameda, California at the age of 86. She is buried in Oakland, California.
· In 1978, Loran Smart's son, Richard Smart, establishes several restaurant locations in the Upstate.
The products bearing Eugenia Duke's name are as popular today as they were when she launched her business in 1917.
As the third generation leads into the next centennial, Andrew Smart of Duke Brands, the parent company of Duke Sandwich Company and Duke Foods,
is proud to sponsor the dedication of the Eugenia Duke Bridge.
May Eugenia's story and this bridge be inspirations to the people of Greenville for generations to come.