Local barbecue sauce entrepreneurs combine influences from the Mississippi Delta and Arkansas

By Gentry Barton
Hottytoddy.com Intern

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What started out as a family-run “table sauce” recipe quickly grew into a thriving small local barbecue sauce business.

Owners of Delta Ridge BBQ Sauce, Melissa and Carey File met in 1999. Soon after, they moved to Melissa’s hometown of Hickory Ridge, Arkansas. In Arkansas, Carey discovered Melissa’s family “table sauce” and quickly realized that it was a really tasty version of barbecue sauce.

Delta Ridge barbecue sauces include Honey Heat, Smoked Hickory Mustard, Fiery Honey Bourbon, and KD Original. Photo submitted.

The duo continued to make this “table sauce” for years and added it to almost all of their staples.

“It can be used for salad dressing, marinade, grilling sauce, or just a dipping sauce,” Carey said. “The versatility of the sauce is quite unique compared to other sauces. “

Over the years, the couple have gifted gallons of gravy to friends and family.

Until April 2019, Carey and Melissa never sold a jar of their sauce. Their business started when they were approached by a local farmer’s market to sell their Delta Ridge barbecue sauce. In one night, they create a label, develop their name and establish their slogan: “Born in the Ridges of Arkansas, Perfected in the Delta of Mississippi”.

Delta Ridge products can be purchased at local farmers’ markets. Photo submitted.

“You can separate most barbecue sauces into three groups: ketchup, vinegar, or mustard. Our sauces have all three, ”said Carey.

Using all of these basics, Carey believes it creates a unique taste that keeps customers coming back.

The Files prepare their sauce – a combination of many secret ingredients – in small batches using a 2 gallon jar. Smaller batches allow them to get the perfect flavor, they said.

With six sauces to choose from, Delta Ridge has made a name for itself in Mississippi and beyond. Each sauce has a unique flavor profile – Honey Heat has a tangy and tangy flavor; Smoked Hickory Mustard has a palette of smoked mustard; The Fiery Honey Bourbon retains that smoky, tangy flavor; and original KD has a bite of pickle mustard. ‘The Original’ is the same as the KD with a sweeter taste and less pepper. There are also sugar-free and gluten-free options.

The sauce has won over many local and regional fans.

“It’s super versatile and tastes great over everything,” said Hayley Oldham, a Delta Ridge barbecue sauce fan.

The owners of Delta Ridge are planning a business expansion in 2020, but plan to continue local production. They also plan to boost their dry friction products that complement each of their barbecue sauces. Consumers will still be able to purchase Delta Ridge directly, Carey said.

For those looking to purchase Delta Ridge barbecue sauce, you can visit Neon Pig in Tupelo, King’s in Oxford, or the Oxford Community Market on Tuesday evenings.

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