B&G Sweet Heat Peppers is owned by Bob and Gail Emmons.
Bob became a huge fan of candied jalapenos over 20 years ago and previously ordered them out of Texas. Did you know that Candied Jalapenos are often called “Cowboy Candy”?
In 2011 Bob received an email from a good family friend. Attached was the recipe for Candied Jalapenos and note saying, “These sounds like the peppers we use to order.”
At this point in Bob’s life he was recently divorced and a Branch Manager of a bank in Ritzville, Washington, a small town in Eastern Washington. Bob decided to give the recipe a try and started to experiment and making changes, overtime he developed the perfect blend of sweet and hot. Bob started making the peppers for friends and family. He also discovered that the leftover liquid from the peppers made a great marinade.
At this point in the story we wish we could say Bob gave Gail a jar of peppers and they fell in love, but that’s not quit how it happened. The true story is Gail was also a Branch Manager for the same bank in Spokane about 50 miles to the east of where Bob worked. We will skip our love story but that was the beginning of B&G (Bob and Gail).
We had been looking for a side hustle to help pay down debt. We even considered worm bins and selling the soil. Our kids weren’t impressed with this idea. In the fall of 2012 our youngest wanted to take a school trip to Washington DC and New York the following summer. As a fundraising idea Gail suggested to Bob of selling the peppers and marinade to friends and family for a minimum donation of $10 to raise money for the trip. So we started cooking out of our kitchen making very small batches of sweet candied jalapenos and marinade. We would go to several grocery stores to find 10-15 pounds of quality peppers that we topped and sliced by hand. We cooked all day and we might have 15 jars of peppers to sell and even less marinade (aka Liquid Gold). Long after Carson had returned from his trip we still had folks asking to buy the peppers.
Gail signed B&G Sweet Heat Peppers for its first High School Craft Show in November 2014. It was a HUGE Success. Even with the growing support of the peppers and marinade we still continued to grow very slowly. Both of us were still working fulltime at the bank and it was really just a small side hustle. Bob would tell you he wanted the business for the tax write off.
In February of 2015 Bob became a Certified Food Processor thru UC Davis which allowed us to be approved by the Washington Department of Aqriculture and the US Food and Drug Administration. In September we found a commercial kitchen to rent to process the peppers and marinade.
In 2016 our schedule included Spring Arts and Craft Shows and our first Farmers Market. We picked the Fairwood Farmers Market as it was close to our house. Both of us still worked fulltime so it required some creative scheduling to make sure one of us was there every Tuesday from May- September. Our wholesale business also started to grow. The first retail location was Sonnenbergs Meat Market in Spokane. For those of you not familiar with the history of Sonnenberg’s it is the oldest grocery store in Spokane. As we did more events, the word got out about the peppers and stores started contacting us about carrying the peppers. Several local small businesses in Spokane, Ritzville, Pasco and Ritzville started to sell the peppers. We are truly thankful for all the local small businesses that supported and believed in our product.
In 2017 we took a HUGE LEAP in both our business and personal lives. We had planned for a large wedding in September of that year but as the business was growing we started thinking about Gail leaving her job with the bank to run all the summer farmers markets. Ideally we hoped that Gail could stay working part time but that was not option. As there were markets almost every day of the week. Bob and Gail made the decision to have a much smaller wedding and moved the date. On April 15 aka Tax Day Bob and Gail were married and official became B&G
The first Farmers Market started the beginning of May. May thru October was filled with Farmers Markets and that rolled right into all the fall/winter holiday shows. We also continued to grow our wholesale business with retail stores, which included WinCo, Yokes and Super 1.
We often get asked about how we were able to get our product into a large store like WinCo. When we first started cooking out of the commercial kitchen we ordered our jars from WinCo. Week after week we would come in a pickup 20-40 cases of Kerr Jars. Over time the employees started to ask about the jars and what we were doing with them. We brought them in a jar to sample and they started following us on social media and showing up at events where we were selling the peppers. In late 2017 the manager at our local WinCo talked to us about an opportunity. The WinCo stores in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho were wanting to feature a few local small business products. Early 2018 we went into three WinCo stores and in 2019 we added Richland and Moses Lake.
As our business continued to grow we realized not having our own kitchen was affecting our ability to grow and expand our business. B&G purchased land and started working on building our own kitchen/processing facility and warehouse. It has been a slow process, however we will be in our new facility by June of 2020. Our plan for 2020 is to bring B&G Sweet Heat Pepper Dip to market and grow our wholesale business with grocery stores and restaurants.