Local couple makes and markets Bullfrog BBQ sauceWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Diana and David DeBacker of Toledo are marketing their award-winning homemade Bullfrog BBQ Sauce at the Toledo Farmers Market and area retailers.
The husband and wife team have been making and marketing Bullfrog BBQ sauce with the help of family and friends. They have been making the sauce for 15 years but only began selling it in August at the Farmers Market.
The couple decided to produce and sell their barbeque sauce after receiving national recognition for it. They entered their sauce in the national “Be the Boss” barbecue contest sponsored by Open Pit in 2007 and won the competition.
Both lost their jobs last year and decided to devote their time to marketing their sauce. Diana previously worked in accounting and Dave was a contractor. He continues to do home-remodeling projects on his own.
“We haven’t been disappointed yet. It’s been a lot of fun and hard work,” Dave said.
The DeBackers make Bullfrog BBQ sauce with an original recipe using rum and a spicy apple version made with apple cider. Both sauces retail for $5 a bottle.
“We hope people enjoy it as much as we do,” Diana said.
The sauces have been tested and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which provides nutritional facts for the product. The labels were approved by the State of Ohio, according to the DeBackers.
The Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) in Toledo helped them throughout the process by providing procedures, sources and requirements for making and selling their product. They make the sauces at CIFT’s Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen in Bowling Green.
The couple came up with the name Bullfrog BBQ because they wanted something that was indigenous to the Toledo area — once known as Frogtown. They are not affiliated with the Bullfrog BBQ restaurants and sauces marketed in the Chicago area and Texas.
“We didn’t know anything about the other Bullfrog BBQ restaurants or sauces until we researched the name for our product,” Diana said.
The DeBackers have produced about 100 cases of 12 bottles each for sale thus far. The couple began as customers of the farmers market and later became vendors.
In addition to the farmers market, Bullfrog BBQ Sauce is available from local retailers including Kazmaier’s, Sautter’s Market, Walt Churchill’s Markets and at Heaven’s Gate Soy Candles in Haymarket Square in Sylvania. Heaven’s Gate owners Jacquie and Tom Olender also market their soy candles at the Farmer’s Market.
“All the vendors at the Farmers Market help each other out,” Diana said. “It’s a real community and a great place to sell our sauce. You get to talk to customers about the product and what it can be used with such as chicken, pork, beef and vegetables.”
The Toledo Farmers Market is open during the off-season on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with about 18 to 20 vendors participating. The market is open during the growing season from May 1 through the end of November with as many as 60 vendors.
“It’s not just farmers at the Farmers Market anymore,” said Becky Kornmeier, office administrator for the Farmers Market Association of Toledo since 2003.
Kornmeier said vendors sell produce, plants, homemade baked goods, candles, chocolate candy, soaps and other products. She has been involved in the market as a vendor working for her father, Andy Keil, a local farmer who has sold produce there for many years.
“Everybody is so friendly. It’s as much social for the vendors as business. They are great for helping each other out. We don’t compete with each other but with the big box stores,”
Dennis Dickey of Toledo, also known as Willy, sells Willy’s Salsa in seven varieties from mild to spicy hot for $4 per pound at the farmers market. He also sells his salsa wholesale to grocery retailers such as Kroger, Churchill’s, Kazmaier’s and Sautter’s markets for sale in their deli departments for the same price.
“It has a fresh taste, like it was just made. Try it once and you’ll be hooked,” said Dickey, who got the original recipe from a friend in Mexico. “I’ve been making it for 40 years and selling it for four years.”
Dickey reported that Willy’s Fresh Salsa is now sold in 300 to 400 stores in six states.
He also makes his salsa in the CIFT cooperative kitchen as a full-time vendor.