Nearly 25 years ago, Lydia Hein first started packing her ?79 blue Chevy Chevette full of her homemade mustard and delivering it to different grocery stores in the area.
?Then she got hooked up with Johnny?s Fruit Stand, located just west of Newton,? said son Eugene Hein, who thinks a niche market opened when his mom starting selling her mustard at Johnny?s.
For many years, Lydia worked out of her house on the family farm several miles north of Hillsboro.
In 2010, Eugene officially took ownership of the business after his mom fell and broke her hip.
Now Grannie?s Homemade Mustard has moved to Hills?boro and is located at 301 N. Cedar.
The building, owned by the Vernon Friesen family, is on a lease-to-buy right now through the city of Hillsboro, said Eugene, who lives in Newton and works as a machinist at BMG of Kansas in Hesston.
Following ?an old, family recipe,? Lydia sold her first bottles of sweet and tangy mustard, made in her farm kitchen, at the Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair in about 1990, ?shortly after she got state approved,? said her son.
?We grew up on the sweet and tangy,? he added. ?That’s what started it.?
Eugene said he became more involved in the business in the mid-?90s after he and Lydia started traveling to different trade and craft shows.
?I had a second part-time business doing woodworking things?crafts and stuff,? he said. ?I was helping Mom a little bit, plus doing my little wood deal, plus working full-time. I just realized that something had to go.?
He gave up his woodworking so he could focus more on Grannie?s Mustard.
The mustard now comes in eight varieties: original Sweet & Tangy, Hickory, Honey Mustard, Horseradish, Jalapeno, Ole Smokee, Habanero and the newest, Chipotle.
Eugene came up with the most recent addition.
?That was a spur of the moment deal last September,? he said. ?I?d been looking for a new flavor but couldn?t figure out what to do. And I was buying some ingredients one day about a week or two before the fair. I saw (Chipotle seasoning) on the shelf and I decided to try something different…. I did it, and it went well.?
Bulk spices for the different seasoning/flavors are shipped from a supplier in Overland Park.
Eugene said he tries to buy local if the products can be price-competitive.
Varieties of mustard are sold in nearly 50 stores, most located in Kansas.
?It all varies from time to time,? Eugene said, adding that Dale?s Supermarket leads in total sales among all the stores where the homemade mustard is sold.
A website also provides a venue for sales, he said, adding sales on the Internet do fairly well.
Grannie?s Mustard can be purchased in three sizes: 10-ounce, 40-ounce and 155-ounce containers.
Products are shipped from the Hillsboro building by parcel post at the local post office with customers paying shipping costs.
?We actually had a shipment we?re shipping out Monday that goes to Japan to a missionary over there who loves our mustard,? Eugene said. ?We?re sending a little bit of everything.?
Eugene claims the title as chief cook and bottle washer.
?That?s what I have on my business card,? he said.
His wife, Rita, works with the business, too.
?Legally she?s not on there, but we claim her,? he said.
Rita, who does some product marketing, makes a lot of the deliveries within a 60- to 70-mile radius of Hillsboro, he said.
About one evening a week, Eugene, Rita and two part-time employees mix, fill, label and package bottles with Grannie?s Homemade Mustard at the Hillsboro location.
?Now it?s getting closer to the (Kansas) State Fair, so it might end up being twice a week, sometime in the near future,? he said.
Preparing the mustard involves no cooking.
?It?s pretty simple,? he said.
Ingredients are combined in a large, commercial-sized mixer and then dumped into a filling machine that squirts the mustard into plastic containers.
?The filling machine comes from Barkman Honey Co.,? Eugene said. ?They used to use it years ago when they were filling their honey. I can?t even tell you how old it is.?
The filler machine measures precise amounts.
?We have it set for 10 ounces on each squirt, so one will fill up a bear (container), four will fill up the 40-ounce,? he said.
Filled containers then go to a nearby table where lids are screwed on and labels attached.
Once sealed, the mustard doesn?t need to be refrigerated until it?s opened, Eugene said, adding that shelf life is one year.
?We?re going to get it all tested again by K-State and get it all redone,? he said. ?That?s what they said many years ago at that point.?
Nutrition facts are listed on the website for three varieties.
?Mom did that years ago,? he said. ?She did it for whatever flavors are on it. So we haven?t done it since.?
Eugene said listing nutritional facts on labels is not mandated by the Food and Drug Administration.
?There are certain guidelines, dollar amount and product?different things that you have to follow ever before the FDA requires you to do that.?
Plans are to get the products tested.
?We?re in the process,? he said. ?I talked with a guy here a few weeks ago at Kansas Sampler festival and he?s going to give us a good deal and we?ll do them all?we need all eight flavors done at once.?
Officially, the business moved to Hillsboro at the end of March after receiving the official state inspection, Eugene said.
Lydia?s age and health contributed to deciding to move the business to Hillsboro.
?Last September I kind of saw the writing on the wall, so I talked with Clint Seibel,? Eugene said, ?and he said he had a building. So we started looking at it, and I thought about it for a while. I started looking at it and did some measuring.?
Before moving the business in required some renovation.
?I got some family members and friends to kind of help me put up this wall, built the ceiling in here, dry-walled everything out,? he said.
Old wiring was removed and new installed.
?It?s a nice facility,? Eugene said. ?We have a little bit of room to grow. I can load things up where it?s dry?don?t get wet when it?s raining. A lot of little advantages like that of being in town.?
His decision to move the business to Hillsboro was intentional.
?Some people ask why we moved it to Hillsboro since I live in Newton,? he said. ?Well, I wanted to keep local because it?s always been known as a Hillsboro product.?
Mailings are directed to Newton right now, Eugene said, but he?s in the process of changing labels to officially identify Hillsboro as the address.
?So it will still be a Hillsboro mustard,? he said, ?because we?ve been told that the (Hillsboro) sausage and Grannie?s Mustard are married.?
Grannie?s Homemade Mustard can be purchased locally or from its website at www.grannieshomemademustard.com.