Made in Kansas product cuts the mustard
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Eugene Hein is willing to bet that customers will buy his product if they taste it.
“If customers look at two brands of mustard on the grocery shelf and one is $4, the other $2, which one will they buy?” he said. “They will buy the cheaper one. But if they taste our mustard, they will buy it.”
His parents, Emice and Lydia Hein, began producing flavored mustard in 1990 in the basement of their home north of Hillsboro. His mother, Lydia, promoted the product throughout the state through store visits and weekend shows. Eugene, a Newton resident, said he got involved a few years later. He lived in Newton and came to the farm to help make the mustard. After his mother broke her hip, he took over production.
He became the legal owner in 2010 and operates the business with the help of his wife, Rita, and niece, Kimberly Young.
“It was basically handed to me,” he said.
Since March 2014, they have been operating out of a metal building at 301 N. Cedar St. Hein renovated the building and added a licensed kitchen.
His parents are gone, and, at 59, he is semi-retired from his job as a machinist at BMG in Hesston.
Grannie’s Homemade Mustard benefits from being a member of “From the Land of Kansas,” a trademark organization that promotes members’ products.
The mustard comes in nine flavors. Sweet and Tangy and Honey Mustard are favorites. The latest is ranch mustard created by Kimberly.
The mustard is sold or used in 54 stores and restaurants throughout Kansas and also over the Internet. Dale’s Supermarket in Hillsboro is their biggest customer. Rita delivers the product directly to stores. Some orders are delivered through the U.S. Postal Service. A missionary friend in Japan orders it from time to time. Some is sent to Kansans serving overseas in the military.
Eugene, Rita, and Kimberly make mustard every two weeks. The ingredients are mixed in 3½-gallon batches, enough to fill 55 10 oz. bears. The plastic bears, 40 oz. bottles, and gallon containers come from Container Services, and honey comes from Barkman Honey, both local businesses.
They advertise the product by taking the mustard to seven shows every year, including Wichita Home Show, Garden Show, and women’s fairs, where they provide samples. The mustard is sold at the Kansas State Fair and a craft show in Salina.
“Starting in July, we make it (mustard) every week to get ready for the state fair,” Hein said. “That’s like our harvest time.”
Last year, they sold almost 2,000 bottles at the fair.
Prairie Harvest in Newton includes Grannie’s Homemade Mustard in gift boxes it makes at Christmas time. Last year, the store bought 450 bears.
The business is subject to Federal Department of Agriculture regulations contained in a 2-inch thick document. Just last year, Eugene was required to add traceability by putting a batch number on each label, along with an expiration date.
He plans to keep the business going as long as possible. He said his niece is next in line.
“Kimberly wants to take it over,” he said.
Who knows what flavor she will come up with next?
Last modified March 14, 2019