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Cookies BBQ Sauce: Iowa Time Machine June 21, 1976

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: June 21, 1976, L.D. “Cookie” Cook and his son Jerry moved a small barbecue sauce operation out of the Wall Lake, Iowa, fire station and into a new plant. Speed “The Sauceman” Herrig took over a year later and transformed the business into one of Iowa’s most beloved brands.

In 1976, L.D. Cook struck a deal with the local fire department to use the kitchen to start making barbeque sauce. Herrig and roughly thirty others invested in Cookies Food Products, as the small company turned out approximately 100 gallons of barbeque sauce a week. The following year, Herrig took over and started selling the sauce on his auto parts route. “I just threw the barbecue sauce on the truck I was delivering auto parts with. And I was selling it to repair shops and then started calling on grocery stores,” Herrig said.

Born Duane Herrig and raised on a farm near Wall Lake, Speed enjoyed cooking during his youth. After serving in the Navy as a mechanic, Herrig returned to Wall Lake in 1962 and put his motor skills to work by starting an automotive parts and motor oil business. Called ‘Speed’ due to his love of auto-racing, Herrig started another venture focused on golf carts before using his auto parts route as his first marketing strategy for Cookies BBQ Sauce.

Speed and his wife Judy bought out Cookies Food Products’ stockholders in the early 1980s and have continued to oversee the company’s rapid growth. The family-owned and operated company employs 17 full-time staffers and operates in a 125,000-square-foot facility based in Wall Lake, Ia., where the company began operations. Cookies distributes products to 34 states and exports to two countries. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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