Made in East Texas: Greenberg Smoked Turkeys

Published on Sunday, 21 December 2014 22:27 - Written by

Greenberg Smoked Turkey is seeing a record year this holiday season.

Sam Greenberg, 56, president of the company that is celebrating its 75th year in business, said they had the best Thanksgiving they’ve ever had, and it appears Christmas is following suit.

“This has been a great season,” he said, adding that they are seeing well over pre-recession orders.

For the Thanksgiving holiday, Greenberg Smoked Turkey sold about 75,000 turkeys nationwide. About 15,000 people “came through the front doors” of the business on McMurrey Drive to pick up their turkeys, while the rest were delivered across the country from call-in, mail and Internet orders.

FRESH by Brookshire’s also sells their turkeys for the holiday season, he added.

The smoked turkeys range in size from 6 pounds to 15 pounds.

While Thanksgiving is busy for the turkey company, it is “just a warm-up” for the Christmas season, he said.

Greenberg sees a rush on the three days leading up to Thanksgiving but orders for Christmas are more spread out, he said. Orders have been coming in for weeks and he expects people to order through Tuesday.

Customers don’t need to pre-order their turkeys before picking them up.

“We’ve got plenty, just come on by,” Greenberg said.

If people order their turkeys by today, they can still be shipped for Christmas.

“We’ll get it to wherever it needs to go,” he said.

Greenberg has about 14 full-time employees and has about 200 seasonal workers to keep up with the demand.

At one point, his turkeys have made their way to every state in the nation.

“There’s hardly a place in the country that doesn’t get a turkey,” he said. “They’ve gone everywhere.”

He said it is amazing how many people hear about the business.

“We would not be in business for 75 years if it wasn’t for our loyal customers here in Tyler who have perpetuated this,” he said.

Greenberg Smoked Turkey has been featured as one of Oprah Winfrey’s favorite things and also was highlighted on “Good Morning America,” in Bon Appetite and Southern Living magazines and in The New York Times.

“It all started when my grandfather began smoking turkeys for family and friends in a corner of his dairy barn,” Greenberg wrote on www.gobblegobble.com .

“Word spread about his delicious gifts, and by the 1940s my father fulfilled the family’s first official order — an unsolicited request from 100 miles away in Dallas.”

Greenberg Smoked Turkey has grown a lot since his mom and dad, Joyce and Zelick Greenberg, started the business 75 years ago with two employees.

The company started when his father shipped six turkeys to a man in Dallas, Greenberg said.

“It has just evolved into this,” he added.

Greenberg said not much has changed since his parents started the business.

“We still smoke turkeys the way my grandfather did — seasoned with our family spice recipe and slow-cooked over a hickory fire,” he wrote on the website. “We still do business the way my father did — a family-run operation that we oversee on a daily basis.

“We have been blessed with customers who continue to spread the word far and wide about our turkey’s distinctive flavor. Our business has grown as more and more people discover why Greenberg Smoked Turkey is a treat that is not to be missed, so much so that around 200,000 customers make us a part of their holiday season each year.”