Standing along Pine Street in St. Louis, watching a pop-up bike lane in action, I struck up a conversation with a 64-year-old MetroBus...
Billy Goat Chips: St. Louis
Originally a product of the kitchen at Billy Goat Restaurant & Bar, these chips’ demand was so great that owners Rob Lyons and Brian Roth decided to start an independent business to sell them. Opened in February 2009, the Billy Goat Chip Co. hand-selects russet potatoes from Idaho, fries them in canola oil and then covers them in their special seasoning affectionately referred to as “dust.” More than 6,000 pounds of potatoes are cooked every week to make the preservative-, MSG- and gluten-free potato chips. You can find Billy Goat Chips at many stores in the St. Louis area as well as various locations across the nation, from Hawaii to Washington, D.C.
East Wind Nut Butters: Tecumseh
The first factory at East Wind Intentional Community was built in 1981 and now houses East Wind Nut Butters, part of East Wind Community Inc., a worker-owned corporation snuggled in the secluded Ozark hills that has more than $1 million in annual sales. East Wind distributes its nut butters to natural and organic retailers nationwide as well as to manufacturers that use the butters in energy bars and chocolate products. Nationally, the nut butters are sold at stores such as Whole Foods, and locally you can pick them up at Hy-Vee, Clovers or the Root Cellar. Nut butters include several varieties of peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter and tahini, and the East Wind Nut Butters range in options from raw or roasted, smooth or crunchy, with or without salt and natural or certified organic.
Backer’s Potato Chips: Fulton
A true mom-and-pop operation, Backer’s Potato Chip Co. was founded in 1931 in Callaway County by Grandpa and Grandma Backer. At the time, Backer’s didn’t have electricity, and the potatoes were peeled by hand, sliced in a hand-crank slicer and cooked in a donut kettle a few pounds at a time. They were originally distributed to a 15-mile radius in wax paper bags closed with a paper clip. Today Backer’s is still family owned and operated and ships all across the United States and into parts of Canada and Mexico.
Cherry Mash: St. Joseph
Cherry Mash, the third-oldest candy bar in the country, is manufactured by Chase Candy Co. Operated by the Yantis family since 1942, the 95-year-old candy can be found in nearly every grocery store, convenience mart and specialty candy store across the Midwest, and now, thanks to a few national distributors, you can find the candy at select locations across the country. To keep up with their loyal fans, Chase Candy Co. produces 72,000 Cherry Mash candy bars a day and goes through 15 tons of crushed maraschino cherries each year.
Burgers’ Smokehouse: California
Although the company was officially founded in 1952, it was 1927 when the first Burgers’ country ham was sold. Fast forward to 2013, and you’ll find a four-generation company selling an assortment of cured meat products from its original location Even the first smokehouse, built in 1952, is still in operation. Burgers’ became the first federally inspected country ham plant in the country in 1956, which allows its hams to be shipped across state lines. Today, orders from the online store are shipped to all 50 states, but you can also find Burgers’ products in most grocery stores in Missouri and select location in the southeastern United States.
Goatsbeard Farm Cheese: Harrisburg
Owners Ken and Jennifer Muno’s 80-acre farm contains pastures, woods, ponds, Prairie Creek and a commercial goat dairy that produces products such as Feta and raw-milk cheese.The cheese can be found in Columbia at Clovers Natural Market, Hy-Vee, the Root Cellar and on the menu at The Main Squeeze, Les Bourgeois Winery (Rocheport), Sycamore, Uprise Bakery and The Wine Cellar & Bistro. The cheese, available in St. Louis, Kansas City, Lawrence, Jefferson City and Rich Fountain, is known as a “farmstead cheeses” because the Munos make the cheese on the same farm where the milk is produced.
Blues Hog BBQ Sauce: Perry
Bill Arnold started working his barbecue magic as the pit master and chef of the Blues Hog Cookers, a barbecue team. His sauce was so good that he decided to bottle and sell it in XXXX. Now Blues Hog is available at most major retailers in Missouri in addition to shipping online orders across the United States and overseas. Blues Hog Sauce contains no preservatives, is low in calories and fat free. In 2007 Blues Hog Original took Best in Show honors at the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce Contest. Blues Hog comes in original, honey mustard and Tennessee Red, as well as a dry rub. Arnold says he enjoys giving back to the community and has sold his barbecue to raise money for Make-A-Wish Foundation, American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity, the United Way and March of Dimes.
Patric Chocolate: Columbia
Chocolate maker Alan “Patric” McClure spent some time traveling in Europe after graduating from the University of Missouri with a degree in religious studies. While there, he tasted and learned crafts such as baking, chocolate making and cheese making. Upon returning in 2006, McClure decided to give chocolate making a go. Understanding quality cacao is key to chocolate, McClure has raw cacao shipped in from source countries such as Madagascar in large burlap bags. Then begins the process of handcrafting the chocolate bars, winners of the Good Food Award three years in a row.
Show Me Liquid Smoke Barbeque Sauce: Columbia
Dr. Harry Berrier and his wife, Lina, have been creating Show Me Liquid Smoke Barbeque Sauce the same way, in their basement, since 1975. Not only is it a great sauce, but a portion of the profits also go into a trust fund that will be turned over to the Missouri Department of Conservation. Lina Berrier says over the years when times were busy, neighborhood kids came over to help. Small but mighty, the basement factory turns out 13,000 gallons of sauce a year. Due to the high acidity in the sauce, the bottles don’t require refrigeration. You can call your orders in at 442-5309 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or pick up the sauce at most Columbia grocery stores.
Happy Dogs Hot Sauce: St. Louis
Founded in 2004 by Patrick Gilmore, Happy Dogs Hot Sauce has won a number of awards, including Best in Show in 2004 and 2005 at the Houston Hot Sauce Festival. Gilmore says he’s a dog-lover, and you can find his dogs — Oscar, Coney and Brigitte — on every bottle. In the spirit of making dogs happy, Gilmore says he uses the sauce to raise money for animal shelters.