Thursday, Dec 08, 2016
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Entrepreneurs’ business cooking in area grocery stores

Coney dog sauce gives local mom, son a taste of success

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    Debra Keogh, known as Aunt Deb, and her son Louis Cullum tout their Aunt Deb's Triple Threat chili at Walt's Churchill Market in Perrysburg.

    The Blade/Lori King
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    Aunt Deb's Triple Threat sauce is sold at several local stores.

    The Blade/Lori King
    Buy This Image

WEBpbg-sauce20p

Debra Keogh, known as Aunt Deb, and her son Louis Cullum tout their Aunt Deb's Triple Threat chili at Walt's Churchill Market in Perrysburg.

The Blade/Lori King
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Perrysburg mother and now entrepreneur Debra Keogh is taking her homemade hot dog sauce recipe to the frozen foods section.

Her business, Aunt Deb’s Triple Threat Coney Meat Sauce, was born in August and hit the local grocery stores in September.

The recipe, which had been a secret family recipe for more than 40 years, was given to Tanks Meats in Elmore, Ohio, with a confidentiality agreement, to produce the sauce.

The difference between this sauce and most others is, you won’t find it in a can. It is in a plastic, freezer-protected container. To “save the taste,” it has no preservatives, and is precooked, packaged, and frozen by Tanks Meats. It’s gluten-free.

The three-employee business consists of Louis Cullum, president, who handles deliveries and markets the product; his mother, Ms. Keogh, who provided the recipe and does taste testing; and an investing cousin, Greg Partin, who lives in Florida. Mr. Cullum has worked as an elevator constructor for six years, but he’s been laid off occasionally throughout that time. Ms. Keogh previously worked at various restaurants in the area.

“We will never can this product,” Mr. Cullum said. “What is great about no additives or preservatives is our taste is still there.”

Paula Ray of Agricultural Incubator Foundation in Bowling Green said she wasn’t aware of Ms. Keogh’s sauce but said some preservatives do take away from the taste of products. “You see more fresh products have no additives or preservatives,” she said.

In nearly four months of business, the company has sold more than 1,000 pounds of sauce in one-pound and half-pound containers. The sauce has sold in area stores for $3.99 and $6.99, depending on the size.

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Aunt Deb's Triple Threat sauce is sold at several local stores.

The Blade/Lori King
Enlarge | Buy This Image

The hot dog sauce can be made into a chili with a can of kidney beans and a can of tomato sauce.

The secret recipe includes 16 spices, fresh-cut celery, and onions. It is good frozen for eight months, Mr. Cullum said.

The young business is starting to turn a profit, he said, but that money is being put back into the company and into advertising.

The sauce is sold at Kazmeier’s 5-Star Market; Schorling’s 5-Star Market; Sautter’s Food Centers; Erie Foods; Monnette’s Market on Secor Road; House of Meats on Starr Avenue, in Point Place, and in Rossford; Walt Churchill’s Market in Perrysburg;, Giant Eagle in Rossford; Food Town Market on West Central Avenue; Interstate Lanes; and Toledo Sports Center.

“Customers love local products,” Churchill’s manager Darlene Carmona said. “We’re always looking for unique.”

Ms. Keogh is just thankful stores have given them the opportunity. She and her son will be at the Giant Eagle, 6930 W. Central Ave., from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

“It is so exciting,” she said of her recipe being featured in stores. “The best part is working with my son.”

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.

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