By Maria Betzold
The Hutchinson News, Kan.
Twenty years in the jelly business will teach you one of three things: you’ll meet sticky buddies, have sticky counter tops or you’ll get sticky spoons.
All of the above are lessons Debbie Gerard and Kris Sallee understand very well, especially the sticky spoons, which is the name of their jelly business.
“Everything in the kitchen was sticky,” Gerard said.
In 1994, Sticky Spoons had its public debut.
Initially the duo only made three flavors: apple cinnamon, grape, and peach. Now celebrating their 20th anniversary, Gerard and Sallee couldn’t imagine having a better sticky buddy than each other.
“It takes them back to their childhood,” Sallee said.
Sticky Spoons offers a variety of homemade goods such as jelly, bread mixes, and handmade aprons, and each of their products is made with love. They even offer gift boxes for the jelly and bread mix lover in your family.
In honor of their 20th anniversary, here are 20 things about Sticky Spoons you may or may not know:
1. Sticky Spoons gets its jars from a company called Arkansas Glass, but Gerard and Sallee are more than willing to trade people jelly for their empty jars when they empty their jars.
2. The kitchen in which the women usually cook is actually located in a garage in an alley in Hutchinson. According to Gerard, her husband sacrificed half of his garage for her business. But don’t worry — it’s inspected annually.
3. While driving around, Gerard and Sallee look for wild fruit growing on the side of the road. Once they find it, they will pick what they can on public property then go knock on the door and ask if they can pick some more. All fruits used in the process of jelly making are homegrown and local.
4. Sticky Spoons travels around to about 15 events a year, but they do not go to the State Fair because they don’t think they will be able to keep up with the amount of jelly needed to fulfill people’s needs.
5. Apparently, their vehicles break down a lot. According to Sallee, many memories have been made by vehicle malfunctions. Some of the craft fairs they attend include Whimmydiddle in Scott City, Five State Fair in Liberal and Yoder Heritage Days.
6. Sticky Spoons reuses sugar sacks to give people their jelly purchase at craft fairs. According to Sallee, people become excited when they see Sticky Spoons is recycling.
7. The first craft fair Sticky Spoons was present at was the Kansas Sampler. It wasn’t long after that the business was formed.
8. Sandhill plum is their most popular flavor. They are still picking plums this year to meet their customer demand for the flavor of jelly.
9. Gerard and Sallee both had sons get married in the same year. The quarter-pint jars of jelly were invented for the weddings as the favors. According the women, their sons both wanted to share the delicious jelly with their guests.
10. They have been using the “garage kitchen” for about seven years, and they can make more than one batch of jelly at a time in that kitchen. Before that kitchen was formed, they could only make one batch at a time.
11. You can only order the quarter-pint jars by calling one of the phone numbers for Sticky Spoons or meeting them at a craft fair. They don’t have the option to order those on their website yet.
12. Gerard’s son has set up a Facebook page for Sticky Spoons, but the business trying to figure out how to find time to manage it, therefore, it stays pretty inactive.
13. For its 20th anniversary, Sticky Spoons is introducing its 20th flavor and holding a contest to name it. The jelly consists of the flavors of apple, grape, blueberry and cherry.
14. The options to name the new jelly are Fruit Fiesta, Marvelous Mix, Berry Blend, Berry Explosion, Berrylicious and Fruitopia. At the end of the year, they will put the people who voted for the winning flavor and draw one lucky winner of free jelly!
15. Along with other commitments such as part-time jobs, the women cook jelly just about every single afternoon.
16. Gerard’s favorite flavor of jelly is blackberry or cherry while Kris’s favorite is a tie between apple cinnamon, blackberry and raspberry.
17. There is a woman in western Kansas who orders a case of sandhill plum every three months. Sometimes Sticky Spoons is running short on plums, and they ask to replace the remainder of the case with another flavor. According to Gerard, she just wants that flavor.
18. Spoons are the major instrument in the jelly-making process, and when they finish making jelly everything in the kitchen is sticky, thus the name of the business was created.
19. For their bread mixes, they use Kansas-grown wheat, milled in Hudson, Kansas, by Stafford County Mills. And there’s no need to wait hours, the bread mixes take about 30 minutes to prepare and bake.
20. Jelly is a chemical reaction. Pectin is a chemical found naturally in fruit, and its molecules are charged. While the molecules repel each other like magnets, the acid in the fruit neutralizes the charge allowing the molecules to join. Pectin is the chemical that makes jelly jelly. It is plant-based and vegan-friendly. http://www.finecooking.com/articles/how-to/get-fruit-jellies-jams-gel.aspx.