It was a chance meeting of tater tots and ketchup that pointed out to three graduate students that ketchup needed to up its game.
While working on a class assignment at the University of Oregon Jessica Hilbert, Shannon Oliver and Karen Bonner dove into their study snack only to discover that the ketchup fell flat. The trio set their sights on getting an “A” on their assignment by creating ex
citement where none existed – the condiment aisle of the supermarket.
They focused on showing how character-filled creative flavors, organic ingredients, and superior quality was the trifecta to building a successful authentic food company. Bringing French fries and ketchup prototypes as a sidekick for the class presentation sealed the deal that they were on the right course. And they got that “A.”
That shining success moved those grad students to taking their product to the supermarket shelves. They named their company Red Duck Foods paying homage to the red tomatoes in their ketchup and their alma mater’s mascot, the Ducks.
Sales started while they finished school with three signature ketchup flavors (Smoky, Curry and Spicy) on the shelves of 6 stores in Eugene in May of 2013. However, Cascadia quickly embraced this burgeoning brand and the ducks took off. After early success with the ketchups, Red Duck soon released a bright cocktail sauce to accompany delicious Pacific Northwest seafood in January 2015..But that certainly wasn’t the end of the line. Most recently, Hilbert, Oliver and Bonner took a long and hard look at what was available and again found something missing in the supermarket condiment aisle: honest and clean BBQ sauces to accompany the incredible local produce, meat, and seafood they’ve grown accustomed to enjoying.
“There has been a lifestyle shift,” explains Hilbert. “Consumers are looking for organic products made with clean ingredients. Our condiments fit the bill.”
Plus, Red Duck Foods’ barbeque sauces can fit any mood with three distinctive flavors: Smoked Applewood Molasses, Hot Honey Chipotle and Sweet Mustard Peppercorn.
After a successful launch of the new BBQ sauce line, the company founders visited California tomato farms this past August to meet the growers and better understand the superiority of their tomatoes.
“There’s a reason you get bright tomato flavor in so many of our products,” says Oliver. “It’s because the tomatoes going into our products are vine-ripened and go from field to purée in less than four hours.”
It’s those honest flavors that keep Red Duck on its upward trajectory. Today, while the Pacific Northwest is Red Duck Foods’ stronghold, their sauces are now available in 1,300 stores across the country.
Come sample Red Duck Foods’ ketchup with character and the new line up of barbeque sauces at the Seattle Wine and Food Experience, Sunday, February 26. See for yourself how superior quality, creative flavors and organic ingredients can elevate condiments and make eating a French fry an “A” experience.