How did you get into the barbecue seasoning business? Did you enter competitions yourself?
No, I didn’t compete, but I’ve been judging the Memphis in May Barbecue Contest since 1992, and I have a restaurant background. In the restaurant, we made our own dry rub for our barbecue, and people loved it. They were getting it from me in Styrofoam coffee cups.
Smackers claims to have “The Secrets of BBQ Champions in a Bottle.” What are some of the secrets?
Smackers has the usual barbecue seasoning ingredients, plus a few more that act as flavor enhancers. You go from sweet right off the bat to some heat after about eight seconds. Then, you might taste cinnamon or orange peel. With Smackers, the flavors fire a little bit at a time.
A lot of barbecue seasonings and sauces are on the market. How is Smackers different?
There’s no MSG, no wheat, no high-fructose corn syrup, no preservatives, and they’re low sodium. We’ve got a mild sauce and a hot sauce called Smack Me Mild and Smack Me Hard. I made the sauces from the seasoning, which is backwards from the way a lot of people do it.
Smackers products have 50 national awards. Could you tell us a little about that?
In 2010, I submitted a bottle of my seasoning to the National Barbecue Association’s Awards of Excellence. The products are judged based on appearance, aroma, texture, flavor, and overall impression. Lo and behold, I won first place in the first-ever contest I entered. Since then, I’ve submitted my sauces, too, and I’ve continued winning awards for all three products, including several Scovie Awards [a national spicy-foods competition].
What’s next for Smackers?
We’re going to start making pre-cooked, heat-and-eat barbecue ribs that have Smackers hot or mild sauce on them. We’ll be launching that at the end of May.