Eudell tell us about the Watts family products?
We proudly offer our Legacy Line of barbecue sauces and dry rubs, the recipes for which go back in our family more than 170 years and six generations! Their unique and richly authentic flavor is a result of nearly one hundred years of continuous refinement at the hands of our family patriarch, Arthur Watts.
Arthur, my great-great-grandfather was an early American Pitmaster. He first began crafting his recipes as a teen, and continued refining them the entirety of his exceptionally long life. They have since been guarded and passed down through our family, father to son in his direct line. The inimitable flavor continues to win praise by consumers and contest judges alike. When you first you sample it, you’ll taste the difference, and appreciate that you are experiencing authentic barbecue sauce as it was first enjoyed in the early United States!
The effort to perfectly balance our flavors is unequalled by any other brand in that nearly a full Century’s worth of effort has gone into the fine-tuning these sauces and rubs. Arthur was born into slavery in 1837. His primary task from around the age of 6 was tending the cooking fires on the estate that bonded him. In his teens, he was assigned the role of Pitmaster to oversee meats cooked daily over open pit. From this early age, Arthur continuously experimented with the freshest natural ingredients available to him to complement the meats he prepared over an open pit. When freed at the age of 28 by the Emancipation Proclamation, his recipes were the only possessions of value that he took with him out of bondage. Arthur left the Kansas City and settled in Illinois. Relying on the popularity and demand for his renowned sauces and rubs, Arthur took great pride in earning his keep with his BBQ until his death in 1945 at 108 years of age.
What does legacy mean to you?
I have always seen the concept of “Legacy” as a three-legged stool of Opportunity, Responsibility, and Accountability. One that requires balanced focus “to do it justice’ in achieving associated goals.
- Legacy begins with something left behind by those that were previously there. In our case, Arthur became a subject matter expert in barbecue, despite/because of his condition as a slave. As a Free Man, he turned this into an unparalleled talent, distinguishing himself to the point of celebrity status at the time. What Arthur began with his own perseverance and tenacity, has laid the ground work for his heirloom sauces and rubs which we now have an Opportunity to share with others.. Our company, Old Arthur’s Barbecue Products is the very embodiment of his Legacy. We own a Responsibility to share his story, and make known his place in history We are purposefully bringing this company to life in his name. We are accountable to ensure future generations of his family benefit from the Century’s worth of effort that he put into perfecting his craft, and distinguishing himself.
What inspires you to move forward the family business?
I am deeply encouraged by our reception by the BBQ Establishment. Our recipes are approximately 165 years or so old, yet we were recognized as “2022’s Best Tomato Based Barbecue Sauce in America” by the National Barbecue And Grilling Association – NBBQA.
I take inspiration from the strength and perseverance Arthur exhibited throughout his 108 years. As a first born son in a direct line from Arthur, I feel as though the baton has been passed and I have been given the opportunity to build a business from Arthur’s Legacy which enables a my children and future generations.
How are your children embracing the family business?
I have a High Schooler and two college aged children. All three have been involved in nearly every aspect of bringing Old Arthur’s to life. I have exposed them to the work ethic necessary for entrepreneurship. I have also instilled an appreciation of their unique opportunity to begin building generational wealth afforded by Arthur’s Legacy. Even with class, sport, and social schedules, each of my children participates daily in some way to help advance our business goals. Their daily participation is also helping developing the confidence needed to effectively problem solve and make sound business decisions. I am proud of to see how each has grown at their own pace, leveraging their individual strengths and, personalities to propel our business.
Where can your products be purchased?
Customers can purchase our complete line of sauces and rubs through our website.(www.oldarthurs.com) This past year, our sauces and select rubs are on the shelves in Mariano’s Grocery stores, under Kroger. You can also find both our original and spicy sauces for purchase on Amazon. Amazon.com
What keeps you motivated in selling product in such a competitive industry?
The barbecue sauce industry is very crowded. Name recognition is critical to compel a shopper to try out a new product in this space. We have found tremendous brand loyalty once someone experiences Old Arthur’s for the first time. Positive feedback from new customers falls into three categories. They “Love the rich, complex and uniquely authentic flavor. They appreciate the quality of ingredients, no high fructose corn syrup, no MSG, Gluten Free, Non-GMO, and lower than average sugar and salt. Or finally, they are compelled by our history and Arthur’s dedication to his craft. I like to believe it is a combination of all three characteristics which establish us as unparalleled amongst our competition.
Where would you like to see your business in the next five years?
We have cautiously grown our business here in our first few years. At present, we are still an “emerging local brand”, but we are growing quickly. Our products have won significant awards, restaurants have begun using us as their “signature” sauce and rubs, and competition BBQ Teams have begun using us with success! Over the next three to five years we will be working to strengthen our presence and grow into a more widely known “Regional Player”. My goal is that not only will be able to find us in most chain grocers within our Midwest Market, but that you will also begin to find us in the more progressive grocers across the country. In the meantime, if you can’t immediately find us at your local retailer, you can pick up our line pretty quickly through our website (www.odarthurs.com), or on Amazon.com .
What is one interesting fact about your company that most people may not know?
Our Social Mission revolves around Childhood Literacy. We have several initiatives which we have created and continue to support that focus on improving literacy rates in children. We are fortunate to have Arthur’s recipes as part of his legacy. He was not literate. He could not read or write as a result of being a slave for his first 28 years. We are blessed in that we do have his recipes in the handwriting of his children, whom did get an education, and did write his recipes down for him as he continually tinkered with them over his and their lifetime. For this reason, a portion of our annual proceeds goes back into these initiatives we have created in the spirit of Children’s Literacy.
In fact, the Public Library in our home town of Rock Island, IL recently dedicated their newly opened branch library as the “Watts Family” Library, as gesture acknowledging multi-generational commitment to helping the library expand its presence in the community.
Old Arthurs Shrimp Lollipops Recipe
Shrimp & Andouille
1 dozen colossal shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound Andouille sausage, coined into 1/4 inc slices
1/4 cup clarified butter, melted
2 tablespoons Old Arthur’s Crossroads Dry Rub
1 dozen bamboo skewers
Prelight/Preheat grill to 350 degrees
Gently pour clarified butter into a low, shallow dish so that it can be used to dredge the shrimp skewers before grilling.
You may need to reheat it quickly in the microwave if it begins to solidify before using it.
Lay shrimp flat on a cutting board. Position a slice of the sausage into the under belly space of each curled shrimp.
Starting at the tail end, pierce through the shrimp with a skewer. Continue to slowly push the skewer through, so that it
then lines up with the center edge of the coined sausage piece. Push all the way through the sausage, and then push the
skewer through the top side of the shrimp. Repeat process until all shrimp and sauge have been combined.
Take each assembled shrimp skewer and quickly touch both flat sides into the melted butter. Then lightly shake on Old
Arthur’s Crossroads Dry Rub and set aside.
Once all skewers have been dredged and seasoned, we are prepared to grill.
Grill them directly on the grates over your charcoal or flame for approximately 3 miutes per side. Test for doneness along