Earlier this summer, Ray and Wilma Yoder made headlines for visiting nearly all 645 Cracker Barrel Old Country Store locations. The senior citizens from Goshen, Indiana, then had but two spots left. Now, after 40 years of frequenting Cracker Barrel, the Yoders have crossed the finish line.
To mark the feat, Cracker Barrel flew Mr. and Mrs. Yoder to its location in Tualatin, Oregon. There, the staff gave the Yoders personalized aprons. The Yoders also received a shadow box including a Cracker Barrel apron signed by the employees of that location. Plus, the gift contained one of the 15-peg triangle board games that sit atop tables at Cracker Barrel.
As it turned out, the visit was Ray Yoder's 81st birthday, so when he and Wilma Yoder arrived, the staff greeted him with happy birthday wishes. Furthermore, news teams were there to capture the moment on camera. Mr. Yoder said it was the best birthday ever. He thanked everyone for their kindness and told reporters,
Mr. Yoder explained he and his wife always loved Cracker Barrel, and they enjoyed the excitement of having a unique activity. Later, Cracker Barrel tweeted a video about the Yoders' visit. Take a look:
Wilma Yoder told reporters that the reason for choosing Cracker Barrel was not necessarily the food, though she likes it. Instead, the most important factor was the service. She said,
Ray Yoder started visiting Cracker Barrel not long after the first one opened in 1969 in Lebanon, Tennessee. He traveled cross-country as a delivery person, so going to Cracker Barrel made time away from home feel better. It became a personal challenge and took the boredom out of traveling long distances on the highway. Eventually, Wilma Yoder joined her husband, and together they traveled more than 5 million miles over four decades.
On July 7 of this year, Ray and Wilma Yoder attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the opening of a Cracker Barrel in Lavonia, Georgia. That marked location number 644. Then with the visit to the Oregon location, they earned their total knockout.
Previously, Mr. Yoder said he and his wife had been to Cracker Barrel restaurants so many times that they could notice minor incongruities between locations; however, they rarely mentioned such issues to the staff. He also said they had two rules. First, they had to pay a proper visit and buy something, even if it were a pack of gum, at each location. Secondly, they had to leave a tip.
Ray and Wilma Yoder get tips from Cracker Barrel to let them know about new locations, so if the company opens new stores, you can bet the Yoders will be back on the road. But for now, they can rest easy knowing they have total bragging rights and a lovely story.