Minnesota spice company serves consumers with taste

A shelf in my spice cupboard. Actually.

A shelf in my spice cupboard. Actually.

I am a proud fan of Watkins black pepper.

Most people around here are proud fans of the Chicago Blackhawks, but I like to be different (plus, I’m no great fan of hockey, despite my Minnesota roots).

I also like Watkins paprika, cinnamon, chili powder and cumin. And pretty much every other spice Watkins sells.

Watkins Inc. is a small firm based in Winona, Minn. The 147-year-old company owned since 1978 by Minnesota businessman Irwin Jacobs, it may be best known for its personal-care products and food extracts, particularly vanilla.

Oh yeah! The vanilla! The only vanilla extract I use is from Watkins.

Unlike so much pepper I find in shakers everywhere, Watkins pepper has flavor. It has pep! It’s not just black specks on my food — I can taste it. And sneeze! Wow, it’s got achoo power.

Speaking of that subpar pepper found elsewhere, I learned last week Watkins is suing McCormick & Co., the nation’s largest spice company, accusing McCormick of “slack-filling” its containers. What used to be an 8-ounce container now contains only 6 ounces of the black stuff. Sitting the same shelf as Watkins pepper, it makes Watkins’ product look overpriced.

Apparently, three out of four containers of pepper are sold or packaged by McCormick while Watkins’ share of the pepper market is microscopic.

Sigh. Consumers en mass can be so dumb sometimes. When will we learn we get what we pay for?

I’m rooting for the little guy here, both because I hate big conglomerates and because Watkins pepper is far superior. And I think you should vote with your dollars, too. Shake off that other stuff and buy Watkins pepper (and any other spice from Watkins you can get your hands on). You won’t be sorry.

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One response to “Minnesota spice company serves consumers with taste

  1. I even remember the Watkins salesman coming around to. The farm.

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