Today, visitors from all over come to try the famous Pittsburg Hot Links. It's a delicacy dating back to the late 1800s. In 1897, Mr. Charles Hasselback, of German descent, brought the Hot Link recipe to Camp County. Today, they are known as the registered trademarked PITTSBURG® brand Hot Link. Charles Hasselback has long been given credit for producing the first hot links, but the question is who taught him?
It is said that Charlie Hasselback was a traveling baseball player. While traveling through Texas, he met and married Miss Fred, the daughter of H. Fred, a prominent grocery businessman in Pittsburg. Looking back at Mr. Hasselback’s roots, he may have received his food training from his in laws. Charles Hasselback’s meat market was located in the “Old Maddox Building” on Main Street. He sold the links over the counter for preparation at home.
Due to the popularity, Mr. Hasselback built an addition on to the back of his building in 1918 and began serving cooked links. The surroundings were not elaborate---wooden counters and benches. Back then, the links were sold in a very similar fashion as they are today. The links would be served with crackers on heavy market paper and a special hot sauce in soda water bottles. The links were 2 for five cents, 5 for ten cents and a dozen for a quarter. You could eat them there or carry them out - a custom that became popular for many households. Word about these delicious links traveled quickly.
Pittsburg, at that time, had two railroad lines and before long train crews started scheduling stopovers in Pittsburg for their noon and early evening meals. Truckers and traveling salesmen would also arrive for their meals. Citizens from other towns loved the links so much they tried to match the flavor in their grocery stores and meat markets, but were unsuccessful.
What happens when someone creates a popular product? Of course, everyone tries to join the bandwagon! From 1920 to the 1950s, many grocers and market owners created, sold and served hot links – mostly as a back-of-building process. To highlight just how popular this product became, here are some of the people and locations that sold hot links in Pittsburg: O.O. Smith, The Busy Bee Market, Jim Cheatham, W.R. Spearman, Smith & Shell Grocery and Hess & Hill Grocery.
The Warrick Family first made their mark in the local hot link scene in the 1940s . By 1960, the E. B. Warrick Hot Links business, located at 156 Marshall Street, was born. In 1962, Gene Warrick, the son E. Barnabus Warrick, known as Barney, began Warrick’s Hot Links. Over the years, Gene and his wife Madeline had six children: Teresa, Sabin, Salina, Tina, Sala and Sonya. All, at one time or another, have worked with, worked for, have owned, now own and have continued the Hot Link Heritage. That dedication is what so many know today as The Pittsburg Hot Links Restaurant now located at 136 Marshall Street. If you have not tried a Pittsburg hot link, one bite and you will be hooked!
Restaurant owner Gene Warrick and son Sabin at Warrick's Hot Links