Smart Company to Watch: Pork and Dreams
BBQ Addicts has turned Internet celebrity into a thriving bacon-powered business.
What started as an Internet phenomenon has become a fast-growing business for Jason and Megan Day, the couple behind BBQ Addicts LLC.
Most people know about the company because of The Bacon Explosion, a four-pound, 5,000-calorie roll of barbecued bacon and Italian sausage. After Jason wrote about the mouth-watering recipe on his barbecue team’s blog, www.bbqaddicts.com, the reaction was both immense and immediate.
“It pretty much went viral immediately,” he said.
Social media lit up over BBQ Addicts’ creation. Soon The New York Times, CNN and other major media outlets were telling national audiences about the dish. And, most importantly, people began asking where they could buy their own Bacon Explosion.
“Our business started in a unique manner in which we kind of stumbled across something, and it morphed into an actual product,” Jason Day said.
Through its website, BBQ Addicts drop-ships three different varieties of Bacon Explosion: original, cheese and jalapeno. The site also sells smokers, grills and a wide range of rubs and sauces, including the company’s own Burnt Finger BBQ brand.
A cookbook, BBQ Makes Everything Better, was named the best barbecue cookbook in the world at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in 2010. Some of the biggest publishers in the country pursued BBQ Addicts for the rights to publish the book.
“We had enough interest that it went to auction on the public market for publishers,” Jason Day said.
Keeping up with this level of public interest has been a challenge, but the Days recognize it as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.
“All of that exposure really opened up everything that we’ve been able to do since then,” Jason Day said.
It’s even more impressive when you consider that the blog was originally just a way to help the barbecue team raise a little extra money for its hobby. BBQ Addicts is much more than a hobby now, but it’s not actually Jason Day’s day job yet. Out-of-state vendors handle production and fulfillment while the Days focus on marketing and product development.
The company was recently named a participant in the East Jackson County Challenge, a six-month competition sponsored by Lead Ventures, which is trying to encourage new businesses in that part of the metro. As they compete for up to $50,000 in grants, the participating companies will have access to business counseling, networking and other resources.
One of the Days’ biggest goals is to raise the company’s profile here in Kansas City. In a community where barbecue is practically a constitutional right, Jason believes the Bacon Explosion has the opportunity to grow even bigger.
“I think this city has an insatiable hunger for barbecue.”