Rocko's Gourmet

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Rocko's Bloody Seasoning Blend in the News ....





Ashland company mixes it up with Bloody Mary


By Anthony C. Fireman/Daily News correspondent

March 2012


ASHLAND -
Looking for a queen lacking in people skills? Look no further than      Mary I of England.   In the 16th century, after restoring Roman Catholicism to the country, she had more than 280 Protestant dissenters burned at the stake. Hence, her nickname of “Bloody Mary.” While the queen’s body may be buried at London’s Westminster Abbey, her spirit lives on among mixologists in the cocktail known by her sobriquet, Bloody Mary.

The drink is a combination of seasoned tomato juice and vodka that can be prepared mild or spicy. While the mild form is just juice and alcohol, the spicy version is made with an interchangeable mix of Tabasco sauce, horseradish and pepper.


Yet, these multiple ingredients pose a potential problem, as concocting the same Bloody Mary again and again can be hard to do.


Thankfully, Ashland’s Glen Firth, proprietor of Rocko’s Gourmet LLC, has the solution.  Rocko’s Gourmet manufactures and markets Rocko’s Bloody Seasoning Blend, a concentrated spice mix with more than 20 different ingredients, including citrus juice, cayenne pepper and horseradish.  Since Firth is a passionate chef and mixologist, he was vigilant about ensuring that Rocko’s delivers a consistent taste each and every time.


“Many people use Tabasco sauce (in their Bloody Mary) but it’s not just about heat,” says Firth. “It’s about a bold, balanced flavor, which is what Rocko’s is all about.”  Firth doesn’t just use the blend for his own Bloody Marys. He also advocates stirring Rocko’s into marinades, stews and soups.


“I put it in my chili and marinate chicken with it,” says Firth. “At first you taste the citrus and after you swallow you’ll get the pepper and horseradish in the back of your tongue.”  Rocko’s costs between $7.49 and $8.99 depending on the package and specialty store selling the product.


Since time is money, Firth believes his product is worth the price.

A bartender, or anyone responsible for the cocktails at social gatherings, needs to work quickly in order to keep patrons content.


On top of that, restaurant and bar owners who haven’t defined for their bartenders the recipe and quality standards for their Bloody Mary preparations may employ more than one bartender. The result can be the same beverage made in different ways.

 

In a digital world where participants in online communities rate restaurants and bars, no restaurateur can afford to be inconsistent. In a troubled economy still on the mend, consumers want to spend their dollars on products they can trust and can now do the research to find them.


Firth believes the Rocko’s blend can resolve these problems.

“Rocko’s makes the same consistent, delicious drink every time,” says Firth.  But use with care. Firth implores consumers to dilute the concentrate.  “If you try to drink it straight with vodka, it will blow your head off.” says Firth.


The entrepreneur knows a thing or two about mixing it up. In high school, he played inside linebacker and guard for Framingham North’s football team from 1977 through 1979.


“I was a hard-hitting linebacker,” says Firth. “My teammates said it was like getting hit by a rock so I was nicknamed Rockhead, which my friends shortened to Rocko. It was catchier than Glen so I went with it for the business name.”


He started the company after being laid off in November 2009 from his job as the director of manufacturing at Framingham-based GTC Biotherapeutics Inc. The company is a therapeutic protein developer, manufacturer and marketer.  Thus, after 23 years in the biotechnology industry, Firth found himself at a career crossroad.  On one hand, heading back to the biotech industry was a natural choice. Nevertheless, Firth’s friends and family constantly nudged him to commercialize his Bloody Mary mix.  “I always brought the ingredients on vacations and family get-togethers,” says Firth. “I heard for years ‘This was the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had.’”


When Firth told his wife, Fran, he was ready to start Rocko’s Gourmet, she was excited by the prospect.  “I told him ‘It’s about time,’” says Fran, who works as the director of business development for UBM, a New York-based marketing and communications company. “It was waiting in the wings. People were always telling him that he has to do this.”  Fran now also manages Rocko’s financials, marketing and logistics.


From the summer of 2010 through most of 2011, Firth simultaneously consulted for a handful of local biotechnology companies while becoming a seasoned food and beverage professional.

In November 2010, Rocko’s Gourmet was launched and has been a hit ever since.


One recipient is Steve Uliss, who is not just Firth’s friend but also the proprietor of Firefly’s Inc., a barbecue and Southern fare eatery with locations in Framingham and Marlborough.  Food marketers often solicit Uliss to try their sauces and seasonings. While he finds some appealing, he rolls his eyes at others.  That said, once Uliss tasted Rocko’s blend, he knew it was as good as gold.


“(Rocko’s) has the right amount of heat, acid and salt, which really hits the notes,” says Uliss. “What makes it great is that you can adjust the heat while the flavor maintains its body. It drives home what a Bloody Mary should taste like.” Today, Rocko’s is served in both locations.


Firth hasn’t only impressed Uliss. He has also caught the attention of Bill Goldberg, the owner of Ashland’s Main Street Wine & Liquors. Both men are members of Gold’s Gym in Ashland where they periodically see one another.  In December 2010, while at Gold’s, Firth approached Goldberg and asked him if he would be willing to try the Rocko’s product. Goldberg was happy to oblige.  “It is a delicious-tasting product,” says Goldberg. “The feedback from customers is ‘I love this stuff.’ But the best feedback is I continue to place reorders time and time again.”  Goldberg enjoys Rocko’s zesty flavors so much he takes the blend home.  “I like the product and believe in it,” says Goldberg. “It’s delicious. I even drink it at home with V8 juice.”


Besides Uliss and Goldberg, Firth now has other customers who are just as passionate about Rocko’s. His client base saw strong and steady growth in 2011.  “Over the past year, we’ve expanded to over 35 retail locations and six restaurants primarily in MetroWest,” says Firth. “We’re always looking to expand.”  With all of these new accounts, Firth keeps busy conducting in-store tastings.  “I try to get to all the stores once a month.” says Firth.


In addition to the smaller, intimate in-store functions, Firth will be attending large-scale events, too.

“I’ll be attending the Taste of MetroWest, which is being held at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel & Conference Center on March 13,” says Firth. “I’ll also attend the Taste of the Boroughs at the Doubletree (Hotel) in Westborough on March 25.”


As for new products, Firth is considering other hot ideas.  “I’m thinking about spicy ketchup and spice rubs for bar-becues,” says Firth. “First, I need to connect with a distributor to expand my supply chain.”


For more information about Rocko’s Gourmet LLC, visit rockosgourmet.com, call Glen Firth at 508-881-7150 or email to rocko@rockosgourmet.com.









Daisy at Indulge Inspire Imbibe is a self proclaimed "huge Bloody Mary Fan."  She shared her first experience tasting Rocko's Blend on her recent blog post.  Check it out here!
Michelle at Fun and Fearless in Beantown was "seriously impressed" when she tried Rocko's Blend.  Read about why she has quickly become a supporter of the product that delivered the heat she was looking for!  Her full review is posted.
Please share your stories about Rocko's with us by sending an email to info@rockosgourmet.com.

If you are interested in reviewing Rocko's Blend, don't hesitate to contact us at info@rockosgourmet.com.