By Lorrie Baumann
Jennifer Connor isn’t one of those little girls who grew up always knowing exactly what she wanted to do for the rest of her life, and whatever her passing dreams were, they didn’t include becoming the Founder, President and Chief Mustard Officer of Mustard Girl All-American Mustards. “I never thought I would ever get into mustard. Nevertheless, when I was little, I always loved the color yellow. I also always loved cooking and loved mustard, growing up and so the seeds were planted,” she says. “I knew there was something out there for me. I always knew that if you follow your heart and believe in it, you’ll end up somewhere.”
Then she tasted Mr. Rendall’s mustard while she was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It’s not too much to say she fell in love with it. At the time, she was an art history major thinking about pursuing a career in advertising. She graduated from college, and she did that for a while, but then she heard that Rendall was planning to retire, taking his recipes with him.
Connor tracked him down and begged him to sell her his recipes as she couldn’t imagine the world without them. “I asked him if I could help him grow his company. He said no, you’re just an art history major. They’ll eat you alive out there; it’s too competitive,” she says. She asked him for a week to gather her resources and figure out how to run a mustard company before he made his final decision. Then she drove up to her family’s cabin in northern Wisconsin to think. “I was looking for a sign, if this was the right thing to do- so asked my higher power for a rainbow or a shooting star,” she says. “But to my dismay, It rained all weekend.”
On Sunday morning, she attended the little countryside church nearby still looking for a final sign. “I thought to myself if the father says yellow during the sermon, than that would be my sign. If not, then maybe this mustard journey was not meant to be.” The father didn’t mention the color yellow; however, he did say that we all have times of doubt in our lives, and when we doubt, we just have to remember the parable about the faith of the mustard seed. “I almost fell off my pew,” Connor says. “I’d never heard the parable. There was a nice lady in church who held my hand and told me the story of the mustard seed. I cried and hugged her, and everyone left the church, and I thanked my Higher Power for the best sign I could ever get, and at that moment made a promise to spread ‘mustard sunshine’ across America and inspire and help others along the way too.”
Connor called Rendall immediately and told him the story. “He said that, ‘I don’t want to be struck by lightning,’ but he was just waiting for someone who’d have enough love to stick with it, and I did. He told me that I’d probably lose my shirt three times, which I did, but I never gave up,” she says. “It changed my whole life. It’s all about believing in yourself. I wanted the whole world to have the opportunity to have that goodness.”
Rendell agreed to spend five days with Connor teaching her everything he could about the business in that length of time. The two met in a Starbucks coffee shop from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, and finally, Rendell turned over the yellow pieces of paper that contained his mustard recipes and his sales records for the customers who’d been buying from him. “He gave me the building blocks to help me get started to where I am today,” she says.
That was in 2006, and Connor spent the next two years trying to practice everything Rendell had taught her while she improved the recipes and found a co-packer who could attend to production while she made the sales. When she moved production to the co-packer in 2008, just in time for the American economy to take a nosedive, she decided to change the name of her company to Mustard Girl. “I decided that since I had evolved the recipes and made them my own, we could have a real-life mascot who could be a role model for girls,” she says. “People were calling me Mustard Girl, so I had someone draw a picture of me for the labels and decided to call the mustard, Mustard Girl.”
She put every dime she had into the business, and in the absence of anyone else to advise her about the mustard business, she thought back to what Rendell had told her about how competitive the business was. There were weeks when she didn’t eat much besides rice, beans and mustard. She called on family and friends to help out, a humbling experience that she says has brought her closer to them too. “Going into this, I was very naive. I didn’t know how hard it was going to be and how fierce it was going to be. I got into this at a time when people weren’t spending money on new products, banks weren’t lending and little did I know I was competing in one of the toughest food categories. I was chewed up a lot, but I always knew that my destiny in life was to have faith in the mustard seed. I really needed to believe that. I’m a big fan of Vince Lombardi, and I’ve always remembered what he said about what it takes to be Number 1. I am going to go until I can’t possibly go any more but not never up,” she says. “I also didn’t have the billions of dollars that the other big companies have. I did a lot of guerrilla marketing, a lot of festivals and food shows and demonstrations in grocery stores. I just worked really hard and had a lot of sleepless nights, but never gave up on the faith of the mustard seed or Mustard Girl.”
Today, Mustard Girl All-American Mustards are still made from ingredients sourced in the Midwest. Mustard seeds come from Wisconsin and from Canada. All the other spices and ingredients come from the Midwest. The honey that’s in some of the mustards is also from Wisconsin. Mustard Girl All-American Mustards are sold in all Super Targets across the U.S., Publix stores in the South, Whole Foods in the Midwest region, expanding to other territories in the next year. Mustard Girl is the official mustard for the burger bars on Norwegian Cruise Lines. Mustard Girl mustards are also being adopted by leading chefs, including the Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants and Tom & Eddie’s. “Kids love the Sweet ‘N’ Fancy Yellow. Men love the Zesty Horseradish. Women love the American Dijon, and children love the Mustard Girl Sweet N Fancy Yellow. Everyone loves the Mustard Girl Sweet n Spicy Honey Mustard and Mustard Girl Stoneground Deli too- a range of flavors for the whole family that taste like a beautiful symphony upon your taste-buds.” Connor says. “I was asked to participate in Aspen Food & Wine Show this June which was a great honor. This is my first Aspen show, which I’m really looking forward to, and did the NRA Show last year, which was a huge success.” The mustards are also medal winners in the World Wide Mustard competition. These mustards are packed with mustard seed, turmeric and spices; they are all natural, gluten free and kosher, with no fat and no preservatives. She’s currently developing new mustards and also some salad dressings that she hopes to bring to the market in 2016 along with a cookbook. “I’m still looking for my ketchup boy too,” she says. “I’ve just been too busy cutting the mustard.”
In addition to running the company, Connor has a busy schedule of community involvement, including a number of projects aimed at improving life for women and children. She works with the Women’s Health Foundation in Madison and with the Ivory Coast Women’s and Children’s Clinic started by a friend of hers. She has volunteered with Common Threads organization started by Chef Art Smith, owner of TABLE Fifty-Two and other restaurants. The organization helps inner-city kids learn to cook and teach them about nutrition in hopes of preventing obesity, and take better care of themselves so they can longer, healthier lives. Make a Wish Foundation of Wisconsin gets donations from her. Madison Children’s Museum too. “I also like going to schools to help inspire children. I go to any class that would like to have me,” she says. “I come in dressed up as Mustard Girl and tell them my story, and we talk about what everybody wants to be when they grow up and make some yummy mustard inspired recipes. The children are our future mustard seeds of tomorrow…. Spreading the sunshine the best you can, inspiring others to believe in their own mustard seeds, and to not give up out there no matter how hard it is, makes life worth it in the end, what a better way to do this than through mustard!”
The makers of Wholly Guacamole® brand have added Avocado Verde 45 cal Minis to their line of products. The new minis pack all the flavor of tomatillos, hand-scooped avocados, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro of the brand’s popular Avocado Verde dip in 2-ounce containers. The Avocado Verde 45 Cal Minis are the seventh flavor in Wholly Guacamole brand’s lineup of fan-favorite mini cups.
“Consumers are continuing to explore the variety of Mexican flavors and recognize the health benefits of avocados, so we asked ‘What’s the next thing they need?’” said Terrill Bacon, Senior Brand Manager of Wholly Guacamole brand. “Our fans love our Avocado Verde dip, so creating a mini cup was the perfect solution to help them continue exploring the culinary landscape at home and on the go.”
The new minis will appear on grocery shelves in the coming months and can be purchased in 4- or 6-pack product sizes. The 4-count suggested retail price is $3.99-$4.99 and the 6-count is $5.29-$5.99, depending on the retailer. Like all Wholly Guacamole products, the Minis are all natural, gluten free, dairy free and kosher certified.
McCormick & Company, Incorporated has signed an agreement to acquire 100 percent of the shares of One World Foods, Inc., seller of Stubb’s barbecue sauces, a privately held company located in Austin, Texas.
Alan Wilson, Chairman & CEO of McCormick stated, “We are pleased to announce this agreement to acquire Stubb’s. Based in Texas, Stubb’s is an authentic, craft brand with an enthusiastic and loyal consumer base. Through marketing and innovation, we intend to build this base, increase household penetration and expand retail distribution in the U.S. and internationally. The Stubb’s products round out the range of grilling products currently marketed by McCormick under the Grill Mates, Lawry’s and McCormick brands. We look forward to working with the Stubb’s employees to drive increased sales and profit for this business.”
After opening his first Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q restaurant in 1968, C.B. Stubblefield began selling his popular sauces to retail grocers in 1992. These products feature bold flavors made of high quality ingredients. McCormick intends to maintain the headquarters of this business in Texas. With newly expanded distribution and product offerings, annual sales growth exceeded 20 percent in both 2013 and 2014. Annual sales of the business are projected to reach $30 million in 2015.
The acquisition should be completed by the end of July 2015, subject to regulatory approval. The purchase price for Stubb’s is approximately $100 million subject to certain closing adjustments. Due to the estimated impact of transaction, integration and financing costs, McCormick expects no earnings per share impact in 2015 from this acquisition. However, with plans to achieve strong growth and significant cost synergies McCormick expects incremental EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) of at least $10 million by 2017.
Sunshine International Foods just announced the addition of five new flavors to its existing line of pasteurized flavored Sesame King Tahini pastes. The new flavors include Olive Oil, Honey, Garlic, Cajun and Chocolate. Each flavor is rich in proteins and vitamins, made with no additives or preservatives, peanut free, trans fat free, gluten free, kosher certified and non-GMO.
Sunshine International Foods is the only manufacturer to pasteurize its tahini to ensure a clean, healthy and safe product for consumer usage. The new flavors are the direct result of the success and consumer acceptances of the company’s Sesame King Roasted and Light Roast flavored tahini.
Sesame King Tahini pastes are made from 100 percent pure ground sesame seeds. The sesame seeds are shipped directly from the farms to the Sunshine International Foods facility and are sifted, hulled, roasted and ground to perfection. Each Sesame King Tahini is all natural, with a subtle, delightful aroma, rich with texture and delicious taste. Sunshine International Foods mechanically hulls its sesame seeds, meaning no chemicals or hulling agents are used during the manufacturing process.
“We are very excited to be introducing our new five flavors of Sesame King Tahini pastes to retailers and consumers across the United States,” said Emile Maroun of Sunshine International Foods. “Consumers and retailers are looking for safe, new, exciting and innovated healthy products, and we believe that our Sesame King Tahini pastes meet and exceed those expectations.”
Sesame King Tahini pastes provide consumers with a powerful nutritional food choice that packs a kaleidoscope of superior flavors and the following healthier inclusions:
“As a leading manufacturer of tahini, our never-ending goal is to produce tahini products that taste great and provide consumers with a healthy food choice. Healthy is good. Healthy and tasty is fantastic,” added Maroun.
Sesame King Tahini pastes come in 16-ounce plastic jars and are available in the following seven delicious flavors:
Sesame King Roasted Tahini – This tahini flavor can be used for a variety of savory and sweet recipes. It’s the perfect complement for hummus, sauces, dressings and can really enhance the taste of any type of seafood, chicken or lamb dish. Eat straight from the jar for a healthy alternative to peanut butter.
Sesame King Light Roast Tahini – This tahini flavor is a fan favorite. Just the right amount of roasted flavor that is perfect for mixed green salads, cold noodle salads, as a marinade or as a mix for coleslaw.
Sesame King Garlic Tahini – This tahini flavor is the perfect complement to an array of dishes and takes fish, chicken or lamb into the next stratosphere.
Sesame King Olive Oil Tahini – This tahini flavor is perfect for those unique salads and sauces and is a true enhancer for roasted potatoes and vegetables.
Sesame King Cajun Tahini – This tahini flavor packs a powerful punch of pungent flavor and aroma that takes seafood, chicken or lamb to the next level. Try it as a topping or dip and see where its lands on your dipping meter.
Sesame King Honey Tahini – This tahini flavor delivers an irresistible flavor that is sure to tame the biggest sweet tooth and is the perfect healthy alternative to halvah.
Sesame King Chocolate Tahini – This tahini flavor is so versatile and delicious it can be used as a dip, as a spread on toast, drizzle it on your favorite vegetables, or eat straight from the jar.
Sesame King Tahini can be found at such fine retailers as Whole Food Markets, Market Basket, Restaurant Depots and many other fine markets and specialty health food stores or order online at www.sesameking.com.
Bornier Wholegrain Mustard, has won the Gold Medal for best whole grain mustard at the 2015 World-Wide Mustard Competition. Made by Europeenne de Condiments in Couchey, France, the classic old-style Grained Dijon mustard has added yet another medal to its already impressive record of world-class mustards. In 2014, Bornier’s smooth Dijon took home not only the Gold Medal in its category but was named the 2014 Grand Champion award as well.
Held under the direction of the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wisconsin, the 2015 World-Wide Mustard Competition drew hundreds of entries in 17 flavor categories. Judges tasted the mustards “blind,” not knowing if they were tasting international brands or small boutique mustards.
According to Barry Levenson, Curator of the National Mustard Museum and Competition Coordinator, Bornier’s Wholegrain Mustard is exactly what food lovers expect of a course grained mustard. “It combines the classic Dijon nose hit with the perfect texture – coarse but not gritty. There is also a certain nuttiness that set it apart from all other grainy mustards.
Bornier mustards go back nearly two centuries, as the brand, founded in 1816, originated as the creation of master French mustard maker (“moutardier”) Denis Bornier. The factory is located in Couchey, only a few kilometers from the city limits of Dijon.
Whole seed and whole grain mustards may be old-fashioned but they have experienced a major resurgence in recent years as chefs and food lovers have come to appreciate the complexity and versatility that these mustards deliver. According to Levenson, their flavor profile makes them an excellent alternative to butter and sour cream as a potato topping. “A dollop of Bornier Wholegrain Mustard is all that any potato could every want!” he said. With only 5 calories/serving (1 teaspoon) and fat free, Dijon mustards, smooth and grainy, are healthy components to any eating plan.
Nassau Candy Company (http://www.nassaucandy.com, exclusive U.S. importer of Bornier mustards, is exhibiting at the 2015 Summer Fancy Food Show. The mustards are also available to consumers through the National Mustard Museum gift shop and its online store, http://www.mustardmuseum.com.
For more information, contact Joel Cortes, firstname.lastname@example.org 516.433.7100.
Sweet and spicy lovers take note: A delicious combination of roasted poblano peppers and peaches create unforgettable flavor in the latest spread from The Gracious Gourmet. Roasted Poblano Peach Spread is the most recent addition to the award-winning line of spreads, chutneys, pestos and tapenades. Taste it at the Summer Fancy Food Show.
Roasted Poblano Peach Spread: The sweet flavor of luscious peaches is balanced with roasted poblano chile peppers and an accent of cilantro. This innovative and mildly spiced spread is sure to please a wide audience, especially when paired with cheese, or accompanying shellfish, chicken and pork. It can also be tossed in a salad with a lemon and oil dressing.
“Smoky and sweet flavors continue to rise among the latest food trends,” says Nancy Wekselbaum, founder of The Gracious Gourmet. “Roasted Poblano Peach Spread is a versatile condiment that can add excitement to a variety of meals. The spread isn’t hot in flavor, but does add a lot of spice and flavor to fish, pork or even a salad. I love to use it on a cheese plates with Spanish-style cheese like Manchego.”
Other New Products
Date Apricot Spread is packed with dates combined with apricots, spices and orange juice. It is great paired with cheeses like ricotta, fresh goat, brie and cheddar and is delicious served with chicken, duck or turkey and mixed into basmati rice. Also perfect for yogurt parfaits or as a topper for vanilla or caramel ice creams.
Sautéed Mixed Mushrooms contains white, crimini and shiitake mushrooms cooked with onions in olive oil and finished with a dash of lemon juice. It provides “essential” rich mushroom flavor to a variety of dishes, including risottos, pasta dishes, soups, omelets and savory pancakes.
Sweet Caramelized Onions includes the equivalent of 1 pound of raw sweet onions in every -ounce container. The fresh onions are cooked in olive oil with a hint of brown sugar to boost the onions’ natural sweetness — the taste is so good you can eat them straight from the jar! Use them to top all kinds of meat and fish as well as in salad dressings, soups, pasta and rice dishes.
The Gracious Gourmet’s all-natural products enliven countless menus with a wide variety of foodservice options for restaurateurs, chefs, cafes, caterers, event planners and wine bars. All three of the new products are available in 76-ounce foodservice containers. These affordable and time-saving accompaniments can be used for cheese plates, as sandwich spreads, in salad dressings and much more.
Steve Schirripa is teaming up with his Sopranos co-star Michael Imperioli to meet their fans at The Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, where Steve will be exhibiting his Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties line of organic pasta sauces. Schirripa and Imperioli, known by Sopranos fans as Bobby Baccalieri and Christopher Moltisanti, will be signing autographs and sharing sauce with their fans at The Hilton Level 2 – Hot Products Pavilion, Booth H201 on March 5 and 6 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. There will also be raffle prizes given out continuously throughout both days.
“Michael Imperioli is like a brother to me, so it’ll be great to have him in Anaheim. We’re looking forward to breaking bread with our fans and introducing them to Uncle Steve’s sauces,” Schirripa noted.
Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties was created by Steve Schirripa earlier this year. Each jar of Uncle Steve’s sauce is produced in the USA from small batches of fresh imported organic Italian plum tomatoes, vegetables and spices, “Our products are USDA-certified organic, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and contain no added sugar. With no GMOs, no pesticides, and nothing artificial, you can be confident you are feeding your family not only great-tasting products, but nourishing them as well.” said Schirripa. “My mother cooked her sauce for six hours and unlike the others, we are doing the same.”
Uncle Steve’s is available in three flavors: Marinara, Tomato Basil and Arrabiata. It is available at Whole Foods Market, Central Market, ShopRite, Stop ‘n Shop and many other grocery and health food stores across the USA. For more information on where to buy or to purchase by mail, go to www.unclestevesny.com.
Edmond Fallot is adding a new mustard to its condiments line with its Napa Valley Pinot Noir Dijon Mustard. Grape must, mustard seeds mainly from Burgundy’s Terroir and Napa Pinot Noir are finely blended into a vividly-hued crimson purple paste. The flavor is delicate and will exquisitely enhance red meat, game, fish, sandwiches, pasta and sauces.
Wine and mustard are historically entwined: back in the day, the Romans consumed a fiery mixture comprised of wild mustard seeds and grape must – this famous “mustum ardere” (mustum, fermenting grape juice and ardere, to burn, blazing, from which the word mustard is derived).
Although Pinot Noir has been known for a very long time in Burgundy (apparently brought to France by the Romans), its history subsequently became mixed up with that of monasteries, which played a key role in the reputation of Burgundy vineyards. Well vinified, it produces wines characterized by great subtlety and a wide range of aromas (fruit, wood undergrowth).
Opa by Litehouse Feta Dill Greek Yogurt Dressing was named The Association for Dressings & Sauces (ADS) Dressing of the Year at the ADS Annual Meeting held October 11-13 in Naples, Florida. Litehouse Foods launched OPA by Litehouse to rave reviews: in just one year in the market the best-selling dressing has reached over 50 ACV in 47 of the top 64 IRI markets and is already 21 percent of the yogurt refrigerated salad dressing category.
“We are so honored that Litehouse was chosen for this prestigious award,” said Maria Emmer-Aanes, Vice President Marketing and Communications for Litehouse, Inc. “OPA by Litehouse Greek Yogurt Dressing was the first fresh, Greek yogurt based dressing to market, and we’ve received rave reviews from consumers since its launch. We are thrilled to be acknowledged by our peers as well.”
The Dressing of the Year Award is presented by ADS to recognize and celebrate truly innovative and delicious dressing products. Nominations for the award were received from ADS members and were then voted on by members via a blind taste test at the ADS 2014 Technical Meeting in San Diego, California. ADS members voted for the dressing deemed to have the best overall taste.
Using Greek yogurt as a salad dressing base provides a lower calorie dressing with twice the protein of a traditional dressing. OPA by Litehouse dressings are free of trans fats, have no MSG or artificial preservatives and only 0-1 gram of sugar per serving.
Uncle Bunk’s Mustard Relish, Rustic Pepper Sauce and 14 Day Sweet Pickles are handcrafted in small batches, using locally-grown produce and old-fashioned Appalachian recipes.
Uncle Bunk’s has won numerous awards for its products. The company was recently voted WV Living Magazine’s “2013 Made in WV Award” winner for outstanding Food & Drink. The company’s Mustard Relish was a 2011 sofi™ Silver finalist. And it won the condiment category at the 2013 Hot Pepper Awards.
Uncle Bunk’s award-winning Mustard Relish is a sweet, hot mustard that gets its kick from a mix of eight peppers. It will spice up anything you put it on. In addition, the company turns up the flame with its Rustic Pepper Sauce. Not a spicy ketchup or salsa, this secret family recipe has a unique and zesty taste that makes it a multiple award winner that includes Fiery Food Challenge, Hot Pepper and Scovie wins. Both the Mustard Relish and Rustic Pepper Sauce are available in 9-ounce and 14-ounce sizes and in medium or hot heat levels.
Featured in Country Living, Uncle Bunk’s crisp and crunchy 14 Day Sweet Pickles add a sweet and peppery flavor to any relish tray. Made with the company’s 100-year-old family recipe, they are available in 9-ounce and 17.5-ounce sizes. Fiery 14 Day Hot Sweet Pickles are a 2013 Fiery Food Challenge, Scovie and Hot Pepper Award winner. Available in a 17.5-ounce size, these hot pickles are the best around.