Treasure Valley man parlays family tradition into multi-purpose sauces

My Family Tradition Sauce & Rub Co. is a tribute to every grandma with a secret recipe. In this case, the recipe was the creation of owner Scott Tharp’s grandmother.

zkyle@idahostatesman.comOctober 29, 2013 

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    www.mftsauceandrub.com

My Family Tradition Sauce & Rub Co. is a tribute to every grandma with a secret recipe.

In this case, the recipe was the creation of owner Scott Tharp’s grandmother. She made a base sauce for use in crockpot dishes, basting, broiling, marinating; as a base for spaghetti, pizza sauce, sloppy Joes, fry sauce and cocktail sauce; and as an all-around condiment that could be found on the family table during most meals.

Tharp received the recipe from his mother and hatched a plan to sell premium sauces without the high fructose corn syrup or chemical additives found in most generic brands.

He started the company in 2009 by packaging sauces in mason jars. He has moved to a small manufacturing space in Garden City and hired three employees.

He sells sauces and dry rubs for $8 a jar in 20 stores in the Treasure Valley and Sun Valley, including Whole Foods and the Boise Co-op.

My Family Tradition sold 7,500 bottles in 2012. Tharp says the company needs to grow before it will break even.

Q: What led you to think that this could be a viable business?

A: The demand seems to be endless. Most people have started to avoid barbecue sauces and ketchups due to the unhealthy nature and mediocre flavor. We’re giving people a better option. Based on the feedback we’re getting in Boise, people are ready for “One Sauce to Rule Them All” (the company trademark).

Q: Is there a philosophy that drives the business?

A: Clean. Simple. Real. After educating myself on the food industry, I felt sick. The chemicals and additives in mass-produced products are harming consumers, and I wanted to help change the way people eat by providing a better option.

Q: Who are your co-owners?

A: Jeff and Steve Bittock are my partners. The Bittocks’ family recipe has become the main dry ingredient in the sauce and a great addition to our product line.

Q: What is your production setup?

A: We have an FDA-regulated production facility equipped with brewer kettles, piston filler and automated labeling.

Q: Why should folks care whether or not there’s high-fructose corn syrup in their sauce?

A: Watch a few Netflix documentaries and you’ll find plenty of reasons to care. Or there’s another method: Don’t eat any for a few weeks and go back to it. Your body will let you know. Luckily, whether you care or not, our sauce’s flavor satisfies and exceeds expectations.

Q: Chocolate Raspberry isn’t a typical sauce flavor. What does it taste like?

A: The Chocolate Raspberry sauce is like a mini-journey through flavors: the chocolate hits first followed by the rich tomato flavor, then the smoky BBQ notes, followed by the tangy raspberries, and ends with a kick of cayenne that brightens up the flavor. The chocolate notes are subtle but more pronounced once you cook with it — amazing on chicken, ribs, and also as a pizza sauce for BBQ chicken pizza.

Q: That sounds good, but how well does it sell compared to the standards?

A: Chocolate Raspberry is our most sneered-at sauce and also our best-seller. We love sampling this one and watching the reactions. The disbelievers are usually the ones chasing their spouses down the street to make them try some.

Q: Based on your experience, how viable is the market for high-end sauce? Are people willing to spend more for a better product?

A: The best market for our products are health-focused stores such as Whole Foods, Rosauers, Boise Co-op and Natural Grocers. Shoppers at these venues understand the value of handcrafted food and are willing to pay for it. Healthy, fun, new, simple. This is the trend in shopping.

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Zach Kyle: 377-6464@IDS_zachkyle

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