Mrs. Griffin’s Barbecue Sauce, headquartered in Macon, Georgia, was founded in 1935 by Mangham Edward Griffin. He created a special sauce for his family’s Fourth of July picnic every year, according to owner Roland Neel.
The company has been “puttin’ The South in your mouth” for 88 years and is one of the oldest continuously produced barbecue sauces in the U.S.
“We’ve been in business every day selling to grocery stores. There’s some out there that claim, but really they were barbecue restaurants who started selling sauce later,” Neel said. “I never go out looking for a fight, but I believe us to be the oldest continuous commercial barbecue sauce.”
Neel is just the company’s third owner. He previously operated a cosmetics company before buying the business from its second owner, Jim Wilcox. Mrs. Griffin’s Barbecue Sauce is named in honor of the founder’s wife, Etta Busbee Griffin.
“He named it in honor of his wife and because he thought a woman’s name would sell better in stores,” Neel said.
The sauce takes its flavor profile from a mix of the traditional Carolina barbecue style which has a mustard base, and the Texas style tomato-based sauce. This has led to much success across Georgia, Florida, Alabama and the Carolinas.
“Mrs. Griffin’s a regional favorite. When you cross-reference against barbecue regions, Griffin’s is a mustard, heavy tomato paste barbecue sauce, which is what you traditionally find throughout South Carolina and down in Georgia, he explained. “But it’s got that western influence with the tomato paste.”
That mustard base comes from the original Griffin family, who moved to Macon from Columbia, South Carolina, during the Great Depression. That’s where the company’s tagline “puttin’ The South in your mouth” gets its origins.
The manufacturer currently makes four sauces – Original, Hickory Smoked, Hot and Sweet. The newest addition, Sweet was introduced to markets about 18 months ago with much success.
“Original is still our best-selling flavor profile,” Neel said. “We’re very proud of that…the Hickory Smoked does really well. It probably outsell – just by a little bit – the Hot. The Sweet is doing well. People seem to like it.”
The barbecue sauce can be found at many independent retailers, as well as Walmart and Sam’s Club, Food Lion, Kroger, Ingles, Piggly Wiggly and Publix. In fact, Publix has seen so much success with the sauce that it recently agreed to carry the Original and Hickory Smoked flavors in all of its stores in Georgia.
“We’re very excited about that,” Neel said. “We’ve delivered to some Publix stores in the middle of Georgia for years…but this will go through their warehouse system. We expect those products to be on their shelves by mid to late April. Our price points…will be very aggressive and do really well, especially compared to all the other brands.”
The success can be seen at the company’s manufacturing plant. Five years ago, Mrs. Griffin’s moved to a warehouse that is more than double the size of the previous facility. At about 11,000 square feet, it had previously been used by a ceiling tile manufacturer and needed some upgrades.
“We did a lot to the building,” Neel said. “We put in two central heating/cooling systems, we put in a new roof, we had to do a bit to bring it up to food grade.”
For more information, visit griffinsbbq.com.