TROUT VALLEY – Many put them on hot dogs and burgers, while some dip their French fries in them. Others get creative and put them on eggs and other food mediums, but the reality is ketchup and mustard make quite the dining pair.
Almost seven years ago, Trout Valley resident Todd Somers, an avid football fan and former Northwestern quarterback, found himself waiting in long lines for mustard and ketchup at sporting events. One day he had a thought: “Why hasn’t anyone combined these two tasty condiments before?”
Somers and his wife of now 40 years, Ann, began experimenting by mixing different brands of ketchup and mustard, discovering some interesting flavors in the process. They called the product of their experiments MustKetch.
Somers brought the idea to his brother, Scott, an entrepreneur in Los Angeles who was in support of the idea early on and encouraged Todd to expand beyond a single flavor. The two partnered with Charlie Baggs, a renowned chef and president and executive chef at Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations in Lincoln Park, to help develop a trio of taste profiles for launch.
“The reality is that’s how I started it, just mixing some different brands of ketchup and mustard to start the process,” Todd Somers said. “Now it’s a completely unique formula. It has mustard and ketchup as a base, and additional spices and ingredients that make up our three flavor profiles.
“I think what we have done, surprising as it may sound, is come up with a very unique type of condiment. Nobody else really has this. The taste that you get from this is different. It’s more than just mustard and ketchup. It’s a very versatile sauce that can be used as a condiment, but also as a marinade or even a salad dressing. If you like mustard and ketchup, you’ll like this.”
Somers Family MustKetch came to market on Amazon in 2018 with three flavors: MustKetch Original, a combination of mustard and ketchup ingredients and natural spices, which makes for a great condiment for topping or dipping; MustKetch Zesty, a blend featuring a bit more mustard as well as dill, poppy seeds and celery salt for a tangier flavor good for topping, dipping or as a salad dressing; and MustKetch Smoke, a smokier profile with spicy, peppery undertones good for marinades and brushing on grilled meats.
MustKetch is manufactured in Melrose Park and packed and warehoused in Elgin. It’s produced without preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, genetically modified food ingredients or artificial colors and flavors. It also is gluten- and cholesterol-free, and only 35 calories per serving. Somers said they already are looking to expand on the current produce line.
“We actually have several additional extensions of the three products we have,” Somers said. “We can see another two or three flavors at least in serious development for our MustKetch product. We’re staying with the mustard and ketchup concept as a base for now, but we do have two or three on the drawing board as we speak.”
A father of six Cary-Grove High School graduates and grandfather of eight, Somers, who turns 68 on Sunday, is taking on MustKetch as a second career as he continues in the electrical electronic component business as a salesman for Somers-Stanton Inc. Somers’ children don’t have a hand in the business, per se, but he said they all were instrumental in taste testing, and they all have given some very critical input on the product.
“We’re very excited about it,” Somers said. “It’s a unique condiment, and we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on it. We’re doing some more [public relations], and we’re sponsoring some Northwestern football. Ann and I even made a 30-second radio ad that plays during the first half of every Northwestern football game.”
In August, Somers’ LLC, Somers Family Specialties, entered into a partnership with Norman Distribution in Elk Grove Village to expand placement of Somers Family MustKetch in stores throughout the Chicago area. MustKetch is available on Amazon and 35 retail locations in Illinois and Indiana, including Leader Ace Hardware in Fox River Grove and Butera on Randall Road in Algonquin.