PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Thanksgiving is a time for being with family and friends. And eating. Lots and lots of eating.

All over the country, folks will be cooking their favorite recipes for their loved ones to enjoy. Many of those recipes come from test kitchens owned and operated by food companies across the country.

One of those kitchens is at the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge.

"It's a production kitchen as well as a test kitchen," said Jimmy Proffitt,  Marketing Brand Strategist for the Old Mill. "We are producing products every day that we use and sell to our customers. It's also a great place to try new recipes.'

On this particular day, they are working on an update to a Thanksgiving favorite: green bean casserole.

"We're taking a new twist on an old classic that's probably 70 years old," Proffitt said. "Instead of dried fried onions, we're using pork rinds and seasoning we sell here and oil with a bacon infusion. We tried a couple of different things and settled on adding the spice and flavor and the bacon oil and spices. Everybody loves bacon and green beans and bacon with everything, so it worked it was a great combination."

The Old Mill has several individual shops and restaurants where they make foods from the products they sell.

"We have samples all over the store, getting that feedback every day form our customers," Proffitt said. "We're testing our products as we go along. One of the first things we did is make our scratch soups and have a mix for that."

They even get instant response from customers who can sample the foods before  they buy.

"We also have open concept kitchens in all of our restaurants and candy kitchen," Proffitt said. "Customers can see that as well so we're able to talk to our customers and get their feedback immediately." 

The holidays are one of the busiest times at The Old Mill with customers coming in to dine and shop. But there's still time to make innovative changes to classic recipes served on dinner tables all over.

The owners are involved, if we have ideas we have the chance to voice the opinions and we can be a part of change," Proffitt said. "Whether it's a recipe we've tasted somewhere or a concept for a business and we want to bring it back here. We have the opportunity to be involved in that."