Why are people so obsessed with Buc-ee’s? Is it worth the hype?

We were on I-75 heading south through Georgia and we were late.

The Friday evening traffic on I-40 West in Knoxville had been atrocious. As a result, to make our goal of visiting Valdosta, we would need to make good time the rest of the way.

But once we passed Chattanooga, temptation was everywhere – or at least every few miles.

That is, temptation in the form of billboards featuring a giant cartoon beaver, a few pithy teasers and the promise of a gas station utopia.

There would be seemingly endless rows of gas pumps with cheap gas. And also the cleanest bathrooms in the United States featuring enough urinals to service a small town.

As we approached Calhoun, just slightly north of the halfway point between Chattanooga and Atlanta, the internal monologue vacillated between raging curiosity and the sanctity of making good time on our family road trip.

Construction site of Buc-ees in Sevierville TN
As of May 2022, construction is in the early stages near Exit 407 for the Sevierville Buc-ee’s location (photo by Kim Grayson/

My experience with Buc-ee’s

You see, in Tennessee, we’ve only had the promise of Buc-ee’s, home of the world famous clean bathrooms. The Lone Star State travel center’s multi-state expansion includes Tennessee, but neither the Crossville nor the Sevier County Buc-ee’s locations have opened yet.

And so I’d heard fanciful tales of this new travel center. The Guinness World Record holding nirvana promises the cleanest restrooms, a plethora of fueling positions and road snacks that put other stations – with higher gas prices – to shame.

Honestly, the promise of a clean bathroom alone was a great reason to stop. I’ve earned something of a reputation over the years for picking exits whose gas stations leave something to be desired in the clean restrooms department.

There have been dozens of times that I’ve driven past an exit that – in hindsight – had four or five good looking options to pull off. Yet I waited until the next stop where the single station seems to chiefly cater to those who prefer their restrooms to be – let’s say – adventurous.

And so, already tired from the traffic ordeal in Knoxville and dreading the Friday night traffic in Atlanta, I made the command decision to break up the monotony of the road with a Buc-ee’s stop. The decision was massively popular with the whole Gullion clan.

What’s so great about Buc-ee’s?

The first thing you notice, approaching a Buc-ee’s store is the size. The campus is massive. When they say everything is bigger in Texas, Buc-ee’s took that to heart and is now spreading it around the country. 

The New Braunfels, Texas store is the largest convenience store in the world at 66,335 square feet. The one in Calhoun isn’t as big, but it’s nothing to sneeze at. And in addition to the largest gas station, Buc-ee’s has a Guinness World Record for the longest car wash at its Katy, Texas location.

At any rate, we were traveling on a holiday and the place was hopping. Heavy traffic made me a little concerned for the kids as we made our way from the parking lot into the store, which resembles nothing more than a cleaner, better managed and friendlier version of Wal-Mart.

Soda area at a Buc-ees store
Buc-ee’s offers affordable beverages for travelers as well as food, snacks, knick knacks and clothing (photo by Joni Hanebutt/

Why are people so obsessed with Buc-ee’s?

Of course, Buc-ee’s has earned a reputation that goes far beyond its shining urinal-shaped beacon on a hill.

For instance, each Buc-ee’s store is known for its customer service. This may be a result of the fact that the world-record-holding chain pays far above the typical minimum wage for the region it serves. 

When a new Buc-ee’s location opens, it’s a significant development bringing dozens of new jobs to the area.

In Tennessee, Buc-ee’s reportedly will pay more than double the national minimum wage – approaching triple for management positions. Buc-ee’s also offers full benefits including dental insurance.

The Crossville location will bring at least 175 permanent full time jobs to the area when they have the grand opening next year.

Buc-ee’s popular travel snacks and food

The massive travel center is also popular for its collection of snacks. Buc-ee’s favorites include:

  • Beaver nuggets (not made of actual Beaver)
  • Homemade fudge
  • Texas barbeque
  • Pecan pie
  • Fresh pastries
  • Peanut butter
  • Candies
  • Beef jerky (a massive wall of beef jerky)
  • Lots more
Stuffed beavers inside a buc-ees store
Bucky the Beaver is the mascot for Buc-ee’s (photo by Ray Shrewsbrry/

The Buc-ee’s mascot

The kids fell in love with Bucky the Beaver, the toothy mascot was certainly a home run. My oldest wanted a set of Buc-ee’s Christmas-themed pajamas and the younger two wanted a stuffed version of the mascot.

When they brought out the Bucky the Beaver mascot – I don’t know how much they pay that guy but I hope it’s at the higher end of the scale – the kids were all in.

What about the food and the famous bathrooms?

The food? Mixed reviews. The barbecue was fine. Better than you’d perhaps expect from a typical gas station but not the religious experience you’d expect after hearing about it from some of Buc-ee’s acolytes. 

And I was disappointed with the sausage on a stick. I’m a big fan of foods on a stick, the chicken on a stick served during the Spring Jubilee festival in Selma, Alabama being the best. But the Buc-ee’s sausage wasn’t much better than the stick. The beef jerky, however, was great as was the peanut brittle.

The only drawback we found is that getting in and out of a Buc-ee’s, especially with a large crew, takes time. Even with the massive Buc-ee’s bathrooms, there were so many people there were lines for the ladies.

Plus all the options for shopping and dining don’t lend themselves to a quick in and out. It was good for us to stop, but it cost us Valdosta. We stopped, instead, in Macon … well short of our goal. 

That did, however, give us the chance to check out the Buc-ee’s Warner Robbins location – which was even busier than the Calhoun one. 

Read Also: Best restaurants in Sevierville: Top 17 dining options ranked

Snacks on the inside of a Buc-ees store
Buc-ee’s locations typically have a huge interior with thousands of snack, meal and drink options (photo by EWY media/

Buc-ee’s locations

Currently, Bucee’s has locations in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Kentucky with retail projects planned in South Carolina and Tennessee. 

We don’t have an opening date for the Sevierville location, but the Gullion family will be ready for the grand opening – whenever that is.

Once completed, the Sevier County location will be the world’s largest convenience store at 74,000 square feet. The Travel Center will be located at I-40 Exit 407. It will feature 120 fueling positions, EV charging stations and a 250-foot-long car wash. 

This location is part of the 200-acre development called “The 407: Gateway to Adventure” which is being developed by Kituwah LLC and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on land that belonged to the Cherokee for generations and was fairly recently reacquired.

When completed, it will feature shops, restaurants, themed experiences, unique photo-ops, parks and hotels but currently no casinos.

Read Also: Buc-ee’s Sevierville TN opening date: Massive travel center coming soon

The Cherokee have also purchased land across the highway near the Smokies Stadium. It’s reportedly possible – with a change in Tennessee state law – there could be a casino complex there in the coming generations.

Have you visited a Buc-ee’s? Are you excited about the new location? Let us know in the comments.

View the web story version of this article here.