Family-Owned, Iowa-Based Company Reaches Milestone in the Sauces & Seasonings Business
(Wall Lake, IA) – Cookies Food Products is celebrating its 40th Anniversary as one of the largest regional sauce manufacturers in the country. This March will mark 40 years with Speed “The Sauceman” Herrig at the helm, who is considered by many to be the granddaddy of Midwest barbecue sauce-makers.
Speed & Judy – Speed & Judy Herrig purchased Cookies in the early 1980s and together with their families have built Cookies into one of the largest regional sauce manufacturers in the country.
The formation of Cookies Food Products began in 1975 by a man named L.D. Cook, whose nickname was “Cookie,” hence the name “Cookies.” Production was approximately 100 gallons per week when Herrig took over sales in 1977. The size of the cookers has increased five times since then to keep up with increased consumer demands for the products that the company manufactures.
After four decades, the company continues to be a family business first. Speed and his wife Judy bought out Cookies Food Products’ stockholders in the early 1980s and have continued to oversee the company’s rapid growth, alongside sons Jeff & Bryan and daughter Janene. Several of Speed and Judy’s 14 grandchildren can be found helping out in various capacities at Cookies as well.
Speed Childhood – Even as a young boy, Speed Herrig had a strong interest in spending time in the kitchen and studying recipes, and this same passion continues to be behind everything that Cookies Food Products produces.
The family-owned and operated company currently employs 17 full-time staffers and operates in a 125,000 square foot facility based in Wall Lake, Ia. where the company first began operations. Cookies distributes products to 34 states and exports to two countries. Over the years they have sent out shipments that are accompanied by a range of endearing stories, ranging from deliveries to service men and women in the Middle East to former students and business travelers in South Africa, Ukraine and Thailand who became Cookies fans during their time in the states.
The company services a wide variety of customers aside from those who purchase products off of store shelves. Cookies products can be found in the kitchens of schools, restaurants/bars, hotels/motels, nursing homes and convenience stores across the region. Cookies sauces are also utilized by a number of food service providers, catering companies and food manufacturing facilities around the country.
Original 40th – Cookies Original Bar “B” “Q” Sauce, pictured here with the commemorative 40th Anniversary labels, is the sauce that started it all for the company and it remains their best selling product today.
Kitchen – Speed has filmed countless cooking segments in the famous Cookies kitchen to share recipes and cooking tips with customers via media partners and the company’s social media channels.
In order to serve such a wide variety of customers, the company produces products in a range of sizes including small portion-packs, 2.5-ounce cups, 5-gallon pails, 55-gallon drums and 300 gallon totes. Their top seller continues to be the product that started everything, Cookies Original Bar “B” “Q” Sauce. Cookies Sweet Hickory Bar “B” “Q” Sauce, released in 2007, has quickly become another customer favorite as well.
With an in-house test kitchen and a true passion for their craft, the Cookies team is committed to constant innovation. Their most recent release, Cookies Sweet ‘N’ Spicy Bar “B” “Q” Sauce, was introduced in 2014 in response to customer demand and market growth in the hot & spicy sauce segment. The staff also uses the kitchen to discover new recipes using existing products to share with loyal Cookies customers via their website or social media channels.
Their one-of-a-kind sauce creations have earned them recognition as best in class at numerous respected barbecue competitions and events, including the National Barbecue Association (NBBQA) Awards of Excellence Competition which awarded first place honors to Cookies Wings-N-Things Hot Sauce in 2015. Cookies took home the “Best Sauce on the Planet” award for its Western Style Bar “B” “Q” Sauce from American Royal Barbecue Contest in 1996 and Speed was personally inducted into the National Barbecue Hall of Fame in 2008, as well as the Iowa Barbecue Society Hall of Fame in 2015.
Speed doesn’t stop at making award-winning sauces and seasonings. He and his staff travel thousands of miles each year in the famous Cookies Rib Wagon, bringing barbecue to crowds of sauce lovers across the region. He has also written numerous cookbooks, competed at barbecue competitions around the country, appeared on hundreds of TV and radio cooking segments and served in multiple regional and national industry advocacy organizations.
The company’s impact extends well beyond the barbecue industry, having generously contributed to a variety of causes over the years. Speed has partnered with the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation to honor “Iowans of the Day” at the annual Iowa State Fair every year since 1997. He helped establish “Senior Q Month” which celebrates senior citizens and supports “R.I.B.S. for KIDS,” an educational program for inner city youth. Cookies has also worked with organizations like the National Guard, Salvation Army, Urban Dreams and Susan G. Komen, as well as local charities New Hope Village, Camp Courageous and Camp High Hopes to raise money for a variety of important charitable causes.
Rib Wagon – Speed, Judy and a loyal crew put thousands of miles on the Rib Wagon every year serving barbecue to customers across the region, often raising money for various charitable causes.
“Our company has always made part of its mission to create value in the community,” says Herrig, “and we’d like to think our contributions have made a real difference for individuals and organizations across the state.”
In recognition of its 40th anniversary, Cookies introduced special anniversary bottles that hit store shelves last summer. They also held a 40th Anniversary Recipe Contest to commemorate the milestone and just recently awarded two grand prize winners a Traeger Bronson 20 smoker. While this occasion has primarily been focused on celebrating Cookies customers, it has also offered Herrig the opportunity to reflect on the company’s success.
“It has been humbling to see the growth over the years as well as feel the loyalty that so many seem to have to our products,” Herrig stated. “We’d like to think a big reason for this is the fact we’ve stayed true to our roots, using the same recipes and premium ingredients that we began with in this business. We are truly grateful to our customers for the opportunities they’ve given us to provide them and those around their dining table with high-quality food products and we look forward to another 40 years!”