Home » ‘Spice King’ Lorren’s Gourmet Spices Headed To 1,500 Walmarts
Center Store Home Page Slider National Shelby Exclusives Specialty Suppliers

‘Spice King’ Lorren’s Gourmet Spices Headed To 1,500 Walmarts

Keith Lorren, Spice King
Keith Lorren

by Lorrie Griffith/editor in chief

Keith Lorren remembers climbing up to get into the spice cabinet when he was just 3 years old. He needed the spices to add to water to make “soup.”

His grandmother inspired him to want to make soup. She had watched her father, Gene Johnson, who operated a soul food restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida, feed Hollywood stars and other influential people of the day a steady diet of roasted oysters, seafood chowders and other Southern specialties like Shrimp & Grits. Lorren says people like Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, the Kennedys, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball and Rosemary Clooney ate at his grandfather’s table.

“My grandmother would make all those same dishes for us,” Lorren said. “I just loved it, and from my earliest memories it’s been this passion for me.”

He began working in catering in high school and college. After college he began to travel internationally. First in Japan and then in the United Arab Emirates, he would cook for co-workers, neighbors and friends—as well as members of the Royal Guard and a sheikh in the UAE—with spices he had brought over in his suitcase. And he would give the spices as gifts.

“When I got back home, I ended up having to mail everybody spices, which gave me the idea to begin a spice company,” he said.

Continuing to travel internationally, he started working with spice traders, which helped him improve the quality of his spices.

“I learned a lot of different flavors and about the production of spices—how they’re ground and manufactured.”

After that, he started working with perfume companies and learned about essential oils and oleoresins, Lorren said.

“That gave me the idea to start fusing the two together to make more potent, aromatic spice experiences,” he said. “I created my own way of mixing spices and creating flavors using those ingredients.”

He launched his own Youtube channel, featuring videos of himself making dishes using his spices. That “enhanced the popularity [of the spices] and people started ordering. I got invited to do TV shows from there,” he said.

Lorren has appeared on “Guy’s Grocery Games” on Food Network and with Carson Daly on “The Today Show,” among others.


National distribution on the way

While Spice King spices already are available for national distribution through the website, they are getting ready to make their national debut at retail at the end of September, in 1,500 Walmart stores.

Walmart will sell all 10 of the core Spice King flavors online; three initially will be sold in-store: Gourmet Collard Green Seasoning, Country BBQ Rub Seasoning, and Beef Stew & Oxtail Seasoning. The retailer is expected to pick up additional flavors around Thanksgiving, he said.

Keith Lorren, Spice KingOther seasonings include Gourmet All Purpose, Caribbean Curry, Gourmet Poultry, Caribbean Jerk, Gourmet Seafood, Gourmet Seasoned Sea Salt, and Grilled Steak & Burger. SRP ranges from $5.29-$5.99.

Walmart is just the start, he added. Kroger banners, including Harris Teeter, soon will carry the spices, as will Jewel-Osco, H-E-B, Food Lion, Price Chopper and Southeastern Grocers (SEG), he said. The first retailers to carry the spices were in the Northeast—Stop & Shop and Big Y.

After full distribution in the U.S., Lorren plans to go global, starting with Canada and the UK.

With the added distribution came a need for production expansion. Production was being done in Florida, where Lorren resides, but it has moved to Virginia to a higher-volume facility. Lorren will remain based in Florida but will travel to Virginia going every few weeks to taste-test product.


Cannabis-infused lines currently only available online

Under the Keith Lorren label, the company offers Canna Sauce and Canna Spice, all-natural cannabis-infused hot sauce and seasoning blend, respectively. The products are made with 100 percent legal hemp extracts, oils and flavonoids. They currently are only sold online since the Food & Drug Administration has yet to come up with federal regulations for these products, Lorren said.

“We receive lots and lots of online sales for those items,” he said, “and at food festivals people go crazy over it. I wanted to highlight the flavor of cannabis because I think that’s something chefs haven’t really paid attention to. Cannabis, to me, has an amazing flavor, like an oregano or rosemary.”

Canna Spice has a base of an aged Parmesan cheese, complemented with lemon and a dozen other flavors. It has “the aroma of cannabis” derived from different terpenes, he said. “It’s just delicious.”

The hot sauce is balanced, featuring both herbs and peppers.

“In fact, we did a recipe for some scallops with the Canna Spice and Canna Sauce at a festival, and it was incredible. Everyone went wild over it,” Lorren said.

Canna BBQ Sauce, described as a smoky-sweet sauce, is infused with CBD oil.


A part of the Marvel universe

When Marvel Studios’ first “Black Panther” movie came out in 2018, Lorren created a spice that highlighted the various countries of Africa—Keith Lorren’s Spice of Wakanda, named for the fictional country from the movie.

When the new movie comes out—rumored to be in spring 2022—“we’re going to have a display and put that in retailers who want to carry it.”

Spice of Wakanda currently available online, and it’s designed to “give people an idea of what it would be like to eat in a country like Wakanda even though it’s fictional,” Lorren said. “We’ve met with Marvel and they love the product as well. A few of the celebrities from the movie started using it.”

Featured Photos

Featured Photo Grocer’s Supply Show, July 31- August 1
NRC Center
Houston, Texas
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap