South Georgia residents love their barbecue and the sauce that goes on it. Local entrepreneurs are taking advantage of this passion by mass producing their own sauce recipes right here in Statesboro.
While local residents may be familiar with the barbecue sauces produced and sold by Braswell Foods under the Braswell label, many may not realize that Braswells also prepares sauce for local barbecue enthusiasts intent on marketing their own product.
"It is called a private label product," said Chris McMahon, marketing director for Braswells. "They provide the recipe that they would like us to prepare, and we produce it on a commercial level for them. That includes the cooking, bottling, labeling, etc. It is their recipe, and their product. We are the production end."
Bobby Joe's BBQ Sauce, Back Yard Best All Natural BBQ Sauce, Annie's BBQ Sauce, and Gwennie's BBQ sauce are all being prepared by Braswells for local distribution. Each has a unique story that culminated with the urging of family members and friends to bring the sauce to market.
"My friend Brad Powell and I just love to cook," said Jim Grindler, co-owner of Back Yard Best with Powell. "We love to barbecue and developed this sauce. We started by producing small batches. We decided enough of the small stuff, and began producing 50 to 60 quarts at a time and gave it to our family and friends. Next thing you know, we are down at Braswells having them produce it for us."
Grindler describes their sauce as a sweet, vinegar based sauce with a little "heat."
"We do put a good deal of pepper into our sauce, and that gives it a little kick," he said. "It is really a good basting sauce. It is awesome on chicken and ribs."
While a love for cooking resulted in the development of Back Yard Best, the love for his grandmother pushed Jeff Reddick to resurrect an old family tradition.
"When my Uncle Terrell (Reddick) died in 2006, my grandmother was real down," Reddick said. "I told her one day that she needed to start making barbecue sauce again, like she did for grandfather when he was alive. I would go by when she made a batch and taste test it for her, and then on Saturdays, we would make up a big batch, and document the recipe."
Reddick said after his grandmother passed away, he and his wife Melanie began to make the sauce, and decided to have it mass produced by Braswells in February 2010.
"I never thought of it as a way to get rich or anything, it's just something that we enjoy doing, and everyone seems to really like it," he said. "We just distribute to locally owned, independent businesses. It is a vinegar based sauce."
Bobby Joe's BBQ sauce was also the result of a family recipe passed down through generations.
"This sauce was something that was passed along to us by my mother, and something that we would make up and give away at Christmas," Bobby Joe Cason said. "Now I get to carry on the tradition in the form of a business with my sons, and that is special."
Cason's two sons John and Mitchell are involved with the business.
"As a project for a business class in college, I chose my grandmother's barbecue sauce, because it is so popular with so many of my parent's friends and family members," John Cason said. "My dad, brother, and I decided to form a company and produce the sauce for commercial distribution. We have expanded our product line to include a sugar-free barbecue sauce."
Cason said they had received a number of requests for a sugar-free sauce from friends and relatives who were diabetic, or just simply couldn't tolerate the sugar.
"It has done really well," he said. "It is nice that we have been able to give people an option."
McMahon said the barbecue sauce craze isn't slowing down anytime soon, and Braswells is actually in the final stages of producing another private label sauce for a client in Sylvania, Gwen White.
"Every time I would serve my barbecue sauce, people would say you should bottle it," White said. "Finally, I told them that I had no idea how to do that. They said all I had to do was to go down to Braswells and they would help me. My sauce is almost ready to go into production. I am waiting on the finished label. It will be called Gwennie's BBQ sauce."
McMahon said the most popular sauce produced by Braswells for Braswells is its Vidalia Onion Barbecue sauce.
"It is both sweet and tangy with bits of onion in it, but it isn't over powering," he said. "It is a perfect blend of local flavors."
Braswells also produces several national brands including Paula Deen's and Jeff Foxworthy's barbecue sauces, as well as their other sauce products. Many of the products mentioned in this article can be found at Ellis Meat Market, Tillman, Brannen, and Minick, RJ's Steak and Seafood, as well as Anderson's General Store.