Apple Valley’s Ray Wright
explains how to
your family recipe into a product for the masses
Gillard / Staff Photographer
Wright’s bottled barbecue sauce comes in three flavors:
Sizzlin’ Hot, Sweet & Sassy and Old Fashioned, the
latter for diabetics. It’s now sold at the Farmer’s Market
in Victorville, Overland Meats in Apple Valley and Tom’s
Farms in Corona.
people know Ray Wright from his home-style Southern barbecues
catered throughout the High Desert.
fans can bring his sweet and sassy sauces home.
been trying to bottle my sauce for a good three years,” said Wright,
who owns Rodeo Daddy Barbecue and Catering Company in Apple Valley.
three sauces (Old Fashioned for Diabetics; Sweet and Sassy; Sizzling
Hot ) and two dry rubs (Brisket Rub and Chicken and Fish Rub) are sold
at Victor Valley College’s Farmer’s Market, Overland Meat Market
in Apple Valley, Tom’s Farms in Corona, and Charlie Brown Farms and
Farmer’s Mart in Littlerock.
in the process of getting it in Albertson’s — with the help of the
management,” he said.
process of transforming his closely guarded family recipe into a
product for the masses wasn’t easy, he says.
have to do everything in stages,” said Wright.
yourself goals. Be realistic. Once you reach one stage, then move on
to the next stage.”
are Wright’s tips for transforming your favorite family recipe into
a marketable product.
a recipe is a lot of hard work,” said Wright, whose sauce is a mix
of his tastes (sweet) and his parent’s (vinegary). “You need to
test it on everybody — your family, your friends and people you
don’t even know.
thing about friends is that they’ll sometimes lie to you. Kids are
your best critics.”
developed his barbecue sauce to have more texture than supermarket
“I personally love to see the spices because it seems to give it a
much more attractive flavor,” said Wright. “Most barbecue sauces
are smooth, like ketchup. Mine has some texture.”
urges people to write their recipes down and mail them back to
themselves in a self-addressed envelope, never opening it.
a way of protecting yourself and your product,” he says. “The
dated U.S. Postmark, which is a registered mark, indicates when you
your recipe tested
Health Department mandates that every product is tested in a state
facility or through a state licensed company to determine that it is
safe for public consumption,” said Wright.
Environmental Health Department on Civic Drive in Victorville offers a
list of laboratories that will test your product, he said.
tested it, in my case, for pH balance and for any bacteria once it’s
opened,” said Wright. “Sometimes sauces with a higher pH balance
need more preservatives added. Fortunately, mine didn’t need none of
that because of the vinegar in my product.”
a reputable processor
have to do your research,” said Wright, “and find out what food
processing companies are available to bottle and process your
ingredients. Find out what kind of reputation they have with other
vendors, and see who is getting the most work and the most calls.”
chose Triple H Food Processing Inc. in Riverside. His sauces are
processed in Stone Cellar, the company’s gourmet division.
bottling companies are in the Yellow Pages, sometimes not,” said
choice is to call some companies up and ask them who does their
a reputable processor that will fit your budget, said Wright.
companies have a minimum order of 100 cases, which can run from $1,000
to $3,000, depending on your ingredients and what is involved to
important to use widely available ingredients, because it keeps costs
down,” said Wright.
releasing your recipe to the production company, be sure to sign a
letter of confidentiality with the company, complete with signatures.
name of the game is to protect your product,” said Wright. “Be
sure to include that they can’t go out of state and manufacture your
product under a different name.”
says to always read every letter before signing. “If you want to be
safe, go to a business attorney or paralegal and have them write a
confidentiality letter of your own.”
Once the letter of confidentiality is signed, the company converts
your recipe from cups into pounds to make their first batch.
quality control, Wright was instructed to prepare a batch at home,
following the company’s bottling and hot packing instructions.
our first production run, we tasted both versions and compared five
bottles out of the first 100,” said Wright. “This company hit my
product on the mark. It tasted exactly how I prepared it at home.”
whole trick is to get your package seen because so many products get
lost on the shelf,” said Wright. “If a customer is going down a
store aisle, you want something on your label to say ‘Hello! Look
at me, I’m here!’
reason I chose a pig to represent rodeo as opposed to a horse or a
bull is because they are too common,” said Wright. “I wanted a
black man riding a bucking pig. Everybody loves that design!”
chose Litho Sales Signature Press Inc. in Glendale.
people should have an idea of what they want,” said Wright.
“You’ve got to ask yourself how you want the label to represent
wasn’t happy with the company’s first version.
looked like a black Chinaman. All I needed was a pigtail,”he said.
“ And the hat, to me, was not a cowboy hat. If I’m called Rodeo
Daddy, I need to have a rodeo hat.
asked them to use my portrait as a base for the second sketch. When I
got the second proof back, I told them to print!”
the nutritional value
are a lot of companies out there that do nutritional fact finding,”
said Wright, who used Energy Ent Nutritional Consulting Company in
Calabasas. “The cost of your fact finding is between $375 to $1000,
depending on the tests that they have to run.”
a UPC code
said bar codes are easily available via the Internet at www.barcode.com,
or through the Uniform Code Council in Columbus, Ohio.
cost me $750 for a UCS (Uniform Communication Standard), which is used
primarily by the grocery industry,” said Wright. “It enables me to
identify 100,000 products and service 100,000 locations. What’s nice
about it is that I own that bar code for life.”
into the supermarkets is one of the most difficult parts of marketing
a new food product, said Wright.
an animal called ‘Shelf Real Estate,’ which is the most expensive
Real Estate in America,” said Wright. “Most corporate stores
charge a minimum of $10,000 for an 18-inch by 20-inch spot.
don’t want to take a chance with your product. So if you can afford
their price, then you’re standing behind your product.”
is shrewdly following the example of fellow barbecue distributor
Smoking Joe Jones of San Diego.
doing it all regionally,” said Wright. “Sell your stuff to the ma
and pa stores first. Then, when the public starts to demand it at
their supermarkets, shelf real estate is out the door. You don’t
have to pay the fee anymore.”
said he is currently negotiating with Trader Joes Corporation, a
gourmet⁄ health market with stores in Riverside, Redlands and
other Southland locations. He’s also working with health food chains
because the sauce is all natural with no preservatives.
are a lot of specialty buyers, or brokers, who buy for all the chain
stores,” said Wright. “Some broker’s fees are 5 percent to 10
percent of your sales. They have to push your product to get their
fee. Be careful on who you choose.”
Wright has several more products in the works, including a pepper
medley, tri-tip rub and gift pack, featuring two different barbecue
sauces, chili mix, beans, dry rubs and cowboy cookbook.
warns never to marinate meat in pure barbecue sauce.
it down with beer, wine or soda pop,” he said. “If you apply the
straight sauce before your meat is cooked, the sweet content of the
sauce will caramelize.”
also encourages cooks to experiment with dry rubs.
it’s important to let your meat come to room temperature for at
least 45 minutes before applying the dry rub and placing it on the
grill,” he said. “As the meat starts sweating and warming up, it
draws in the flavor from your seasonings. If it’s cold, the
seasoning just sits on top and doesn’t get absorbed by the meat.”
Daddy’s Baby Back Ribs
rack baby back ribs
1 bottle 7-Up
ribs in 7-Up overnight, turning occasionally. When ready to grill,
remove ribs and rub generously with mustard. Season to taste and cook
slowly over indirect heat in a smoker at 250 F for 31⁄2 hours.
Daddy’s BBQ Chicken
jar Rodeo Daddy’s BBQ Sauce (any flavor)
1 jar Rodeo Daddy’s Chicken and Fish Rub (or your own seasonings)
Assorted chicken pieces
chicken to taste with Rodeo Daddy’s Chicken and Fish Rub (or your
own seasonings). Cook at 275 F on a smoker with oak or citrus wood, or
use wood chips. If you have an electric or gas barbecue, use wood chip
cook over indirect heat for smoking.
sauce into a saucepan and keep warm. Dip chicken pieces in the sauce
just before eating.
Daddy’s Smoked Salmon
salmon fillet (skin on)
Pam cholesterol-free cooking spray
1 jar Rodeo Daddy’s Chicken and Fish Rub (or your own seasonings)
1-2 fresh lemons
salmon with Pam on both sides. Sprinkle lemon juice over both sides of
fish. Coat fillet with generous amounts of chicken and fish rub.
fillet on a smoker at 250 F.
done when the skin shrinks, roughly about 15-20 minutes.
with barbecue sauce if desired.
Veronica Hill at 951-6228 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org