Iconic brands return to Wisconsin grocery store shelves

Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 2:24 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - They were a staple on grocery store shelves in Wisconsin for decades, before disappearing without warning.

But a local company recently brought the popular brands back to life.

Around the state, Hoffman House has been the king of seafood and tartar sauces forever.

“Hoffman House dates back to the restaurants that dotted all of Wisconsin, started in the 1940′s and the sauces were so popular that they started selling the sauces in grocery stores in the late 1940′s, so Hoffman House was on grocery stores shelves for about 70 years,” says Ted Kranick, Jump Start Foods managing partner.

In 2019, the brand was discontinued and shoppers weren’t happy.

“There were stores, this would’ve been one of them, there would’ve been a sign right here a year ago that said, don’t blame us for Hoffman House being out of stock, they discontinued it,” says Kranick inside a Festival Foods in Green Bay.

Kranick says a multi-billion dollar company that owned the brand wanted to move away from regional brands, even the hot sellers.

“So Hoffman House Seafood Sauce, it actually had a 50 percent share of the market the last year it was selling, so that means one in two bottles of seafood that was bought in Wisconsin was Hoffman House. So, they didn’t discontinue it because it wasn’t performing well, it’s just because it wasn’t part of their core business,” explains Kranick.

So enter Kranick and his partner Dave Allen, two friends with decades of experience in the food industry, who actually worked with the brand.

“This brand, it’s iconic. The big thing that got us really excited was we knew consumers loved this brand, it’s part of holiday traditions,” says Allen, Jump Start Foods managing partner.

A year ago, the two formed Jump Start Foods, based in Green Bay, and on April Fool’s Day they purchased the Hoffman House brand, the original formulas and the rights to the original bottles.

They also revived Bennetts Chili Sauce.

The first shipments arrived last fall to grocery stores around the state and since then, Allen and Kranick haven’t looked back.

“Oh we’re doing, we’re doing really, really well,” says Allen with a smile.

And they especially enjoy hanging out in the store aisles where their products are shelved.

“We go out and look around, a lot, see what’s going on,” says Allen.

While they figured they came across a slam dunk opportunity to resurrect the brands, the response has caught them off guard.

“The emails that we’re getting from consumers are unbelievable. We have people saying thank you, thank you, thank you, I bought 6 bottles, I bought 8 bottles, I bought 10 bottles. We had one gentleman who actually posted on Facebook and he said for all the reasons that we know, 2020 was just a horrible year, and he said until I found Hoffman House, then it became the best year ever,” says Kranick with a hearty chuckle.

Jump Start Foods’s next step is to begin selling the brands online.

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