Preserving Family Tradition
Alumnus Jack Williams ventures into the world of entrepreneurship.
"He asked me if I liked pickles, and I told him I made them and was thinking about marketing them. He
told me to come and see him when I was ready," Williams said.
During 2010 Williams completed the licensing requirements to produce and distribute the pickles out of his home in the state of Kansas. By now, his production facility had moved to the basement of his Overland Park home, which he had modified with two electric stoves, refrigeration and the equipment to fill and label the jars. He purchases all of his cucumbers from local farmers markets and a local individual produce grower in season, obtaining them from wholesale vendors during the rest of the year.
"I took one of the first jars I produced for distribution after I was licensed back to the manager who had encouraged me," he said. "I held up the jar, and he looked at the label and said, 'I'll take 10 cases.'"
Williams has begun documenting the family history behind the recipe. Just last year, he obtained the original recipe for the pickles, written in his great-grandmother's own handwriting in lead pencil on a sheet of now-yellowed, unlined paper. Along with it, he has photos of his great-grandmother, grandmotherand mother, all taken in different decades, some in the kitchen of the Buzzetti house near Cassville.
Since March 2011, Williams has made more than 380 cases of the pickles. In addition to his great-grandmother's original recipe for kosher dill, he has added bread and butter sliced pickles, as well as a "hot," or spicy, version of each. The pickles are now available in 26 stores throughout the metropolitan Kansas City area and Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas; Louisburg, Lawrence and Wilson, Kan.; in Independence and Weston, Mo.; and rural Johnson County, Mo.
Williams also traveled to local community festivals and fairs and open markets this fall. As a one-man production and marketing team, he has sold as many as 14 cases in one day, with inquiries coming from as far away as the west coast.