History of Spiceitup! Jalapeno Ketchup
By Ben Drum
Spiceitup! Jalapeno Ketchup - True Love At First Bite
Creator of Spiceitup! Jalapeno Ketchup
Founder of The Jalapeno Ketchup Company, Inc.
"Pass the ketchup please."
This rather ordinary phrase takes on an extraordinary meaning as Spiceitup! Jalapeno Ketchup lands on store shelves in Texas, Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex and the country, also by internet. With its irresistible and zesty flavor, ketchup fans are coining the phrase, "Will you please pass the Spiceitup!?"
Been there, done that…
As a young boy, Ben realized his knack for cooking. He first learned the art by watching his mom and grandma whip up meals and desserts in their West Texas fashion. He displayed perfect attendance in the kitchen as each meal was prepared. The aspiring gourmet was hooked. At six years old, young chef Ben was already frying bacon & eggs for breakfast and customizing his own sandwiches for lunch. By age 10 he was making pizzas at the family pizzeria. And as he continued to cook throughout college, his love for cooking substantially increased.
Vision becomes reality…
One hot Texas day in July 1981, as Ben stopped for lunch at a local West Texas chicken joint during a weekend college break, something magical happened. By inadvertently dipping a jalapeno pepper into ketchup, it was Love at First Bite. Visions of jalapeno and ketchup together in products began as a tiny submissive thought planted in the back of his mind. Ben was on his way to discovering the quintessence of condiments...Jalapeno Ketchup. Later, when working in the "Oil Patch", Ben cooked up his first batch at his home. It was Good! From that day on, he was determined to create the best looking, finest tasting jalapeno and tomato products available.
Perfection of the Final Original Jalapeno Ketchup
Knowing he had a great product but wanting perfection, around 1994 Ben and his good friend tested several versions and formulas over almost four months before finding the perfect product with the right look, texture, taste, and heat--but not too sweet. At that point Ben tested it on numerous others who all Raved about it. He KNEW it was the best he could make, just the right thickness, flavor and zing. But the formula and process was NOT like other ketchup. It had to be made differently by a secret method with certain ingredients that took more time, came from special places and cost more. It was a gamble whether people would pay for that quality.
This lesson of perfecting formulas, methods and ingredients became all too clear when Ben later attempted to get more production with a slightly different operation using the same formula-recipe, but the ingredient sources were different with different varieties and composition of two of the ingredients, and found that even the vinegar source was crucial to the flavor. He learned the same lesson on bottles. So about 4 years into sales, he decided that NOTHING could be changed. This is where Ben is not like regular Corporate management who cut corners to cut costs. It costs a lot more to make, but people appreciate it, obviously because it really is gourmet quality. Since then, nothing has been changed. It is still the Original Thick robust incredible product.
People don't realize how many varieties, flavors, textures, gradations and unknown sources of taste there are in ingredients and their balance. SpiceItUp! ketchup was not only the result of great effort, tastings, and tweaking, but also some luck. It's magical, like a famous music group, there's something special--unique that can NEVER be recreated by others. If you've tasted ANY regular ketchup lately, you are struck by a runny unappetizing shiny-looking sweet red vinegary syrup.... NOTHING like SpiceItUp!.
Evolution of our Brand name
When the graphics for Jalapeno Ketchup were being designed by the Image Group, George Tumor & Vanesa Tropp called the product "ben’s". So Ben applied for his name Trademark and Uncle Ben’s Attorneys in New York opposed the application. After more than a year of hassle and outrageous fees the name was spelled Binz. Since there was a picture of a tomato before the name it looked like O’binz. That rapidly changed to Spiceitup! which matches our web site, www.spiceitup.com when we finalized our trademark and trade dress to what most customers know and remember. With help and critiques by knowledgeable friends, the final trademarks and dress were perfected and tweaked over about two years. (Ben had about 16 versions created for the first styles, letters and colors).
The O became the Tomato character in front of Spiceitup! in the distinctive little Mexican pepper and tomato cartoon characters with bug eyes becoming the prominent feature. The original scraggly black letters on white with red and green remained our strong "trade dress" from the beginning recognized all over the USA and now many countries thanks to acceptance by the military.
Loved by Many and SpiceItUp! gets Nationwide Publicity and International Sales
In 2004, SpiceItUp! Jalapeno Ketchup and Ben are reviewed by D-Magazine and The Food Network. JKC, Inc. is swamped. The testimonials start flowing. People want an exotic hot gourmet improved condiment. The idea for other "hot improved condiments" takes form in Jalapeno and Peppers Dusting Salts spices. Why not Good peppers and Salt together? (other spices too). This is the year that "a Star is Born".
The famous Cajun Chef, Justin Wilson calls Ben and says "I put your Jalapeno ketchup on an onion sandwich and I Love it!!.". Ben almost cries when he remembers that, and how he wishes he could have recorded that iconic Chef's reaction. (They love hot food in Louisiana.) Some Cajuns have switched their hot spice to SpiceItUp! Garlic Peppers Dusting salt for Pan fried fish and shrimp boils, and use hot ketchup to make cocktail sauce. As Justin Wilson used to say "MmmmmmmMMM Ooooooooooweeee! That shooor' is gooooood."
Over the next three years JKC, Inc. relying on so-called experts over-expanded in several directions, In 2008 the company re-grouped and Ben took a stronger hand in management for more appropriate steady growth plan, and renewed sales to the Military.
In the last few years, Spiceitup! ketchup has been enjoyed by U.S. Marines abroad and in the USA, and in some other countries and has been seen on some Navy ships. We have enthusiastic sales into Sweden.We get unsolicited testimonials from all over raving about our ketchup and complaining about cheap imitations, because they know ours IS the "Original and still the best" Jalapeno Ketchup from Dallas area Texas. (Thank you All !!)
Related Peppers-Tomato Products
In the early 2000's, our jalapeno spices grew naturally out of our ketchup business, retaining a bit of tomato in them with added spices. We began with the Tex-Mex flavored original Jalapeno Dusting Salt, then added the more Southwestern New Mexico (or Cajun) flavored Garlic Peppers Dusting Salt in 2004. That label was greatly improved in 2008 and it has become a best-seller because people know our stuff is all good. These labels have a flair with the same style lettering and classic cute characters logo. Almost everyone who tries these ..wants them because of their versatility and flavorfullness. They are the future of condiments. Use your imagination!
The Bloody Mary Mix has spices reminiscent of our spices, and the characteristic jalapeno flavor and bite.
Ben's vision and dream of jalapeno ketchup and foods is coming true and his insistence on quality and constant flavor and ingredients makes the difference that anyone can taste. We've had some ups and downs, and are working on distribution through smaller outlets, but it has grown steadily and we hope to be serving it up so you can "Pass the Spiceitup!" for years to come. (Our goal is to never allow any changes to our original products, no matter what.)
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