By Gentry Barton
What began as a family recipe for “table sauce” quickly transformed into a small and flourishing local barbecue sauce company.
Owners of Delta Ridge Barbecue Sauce, Melissa and Carey File, met in 1999. Soon after, they moved to Melissa’s hometown of Hickory Ridge, Arkansas. When in Arkansas, Carey learned about Melissa’s family’s “table sauce” and quickly realized it was a truly tasty take on barbecue sauce.
The duo continued to make this “table sauce” for years and added it to almost all their staple dishes.
“It can be used for salad dressing, marinade, grilling sauce or just a dipping sauce,” Carey said. “The versatility of the sauce is very unique compared to other sauces.”
Over the years the couple gave away gallons of sauce to friends and family.
Until April of 2019, Carey and Melissa never sold a jar of their sauce. Their entrepreneurial endeavor started when they were approached by a local farmer’s market to sell their Delta Ridge Barbecue sauce. In one night, they created a label, developed their name and established their slogan: “Born in the Ridges of Arkansas, Perfected in the Delta of Mississippi.”
“You can separate most barbecue sauces into three groups: ketchup, vinegar or mustard-based. Our sauces have all three,” Carey said.
By using all these bases, Carey believes it creates a unique taste that keeps customers coming back.
The Files make their sauce—a combination of many secret ingredients—in small batches using a 2-gallon pot. Smaller batches allow for them to get the perfect flavor, they said.
With six sauces to choose from, Delta Ridge has created a name for itself in Mississippi and beyond. Each sauce has a unique flavor profile – Honey Heat has a tangy, hot flavor; Smoked Hickory Mustard has a smoky mustard palette; Fiery Honey Bourbon keeps that smoky, tangy flavor; and KD original has a vinegar mustard bite to it. ‘The Original’ is the same as the KD with a sweeter taste and less pepper. It also comes in sugar-free and gluten-free options.
The sauce has gained many local and regional fans.
“It’ super versatile and it tastes great on everything,” said Hayley Oldham, a fan of Delta Ridge barbecue sauce.
Delta Ridge owners envision a commercial expansion in 2020, but plan to continue with local production. They also plan to amp up their dry rub products that complement each of their barbecue sauces. Consumers will still be able to purchase Delta Ridge directly, Carey said.
For those interested in purchasing Delta Ridge barbecue sauce, you may visit Neon Pig in Tupelo, King’s in Oxford or the Oxford Community Market on Tuesday evenings.