Many families have secret recipes that they have cultivated over years and through generations, especially in rural America. And John and Diana Koss are no different.
The couple has been making a special barbecue sauce—the product of trial and error throughout the decades. They used it in everything from pulled pork barbecue to mac and cheese to seafood. Their family loved it so much, that they decided to find out if other families would love it, too.
The small-town entrepreneurs began their venture last October, as they began the arduous process of getting approval from the health department and other authorities to make and sell a food product from their home.
The Kosses formed a limited liability corporation, learned about all the state requirements, underwent water tests, home inspections and obtained a processing letter so that they could make the sauce from their home kitchen.
“It was a lot of work,” Diana said.
Then they had to work on their labels, their logo, acquire a UPC code, and submit a bottle label for approval from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. In March, after meeting all of the requirements, they began their new career as purveyors of a secret family recipe they named, simply, “Koss Sauce.”
John, a veteran who has been making and perfecting his sauces for years, said that people kept asking for his business card when he cooked barbecue for them at events. It was there that he found his calling.
“I started making it because I could put it in just about anything,” John said. “It complements so many things. It can substitute a lot, too. It’s a very versatile sauce.”
The sauce itself, a perfect amalgam of sweet, tomato-based and tangy, vinegar-based sauces, offers a unique taste that is appealing to fans of both styles. Since March, the couple has sold nearly 1,000 bottles of the sauce. When considering that the sauce is made in batches of 11 bottles at a time, the effort that goes into meeting the demands of their customers is monumental.
“We have a system worked out,” John said, explaining how his sauce comes together. “I’ll handle the wet ingredients and she’ll mix up the dry ones. Then I’ll do the pouring and she’ll do the labeling and bottling. It works really good.”
The bottles are then numbered and logged before shipping out to customers around the country. Diana and John both said that they are always surprised when they receive an order online from someone across the country that they have never met.
To read the entire story, see the Dec. 28 edition of The Central Virginian.