By Kate Burroughs
Sandra and Rod Weese are business owners who aren’t afraid to bring a little heat to the Valley — in the form of jalapeño jelly — that is. A popular holiday treat served with crackers and cream cheese, this classic dish has been elevated to new heights in the Wasatch Back.
A little over a decade ago, the dynamic duo were sitting on the front porch of their Midway home, planning their next great adventure. Only to, quite serendipitously, receive a call a few weeks later, offering them an opportunity to partner with another couple running a small jelly and jam company out of a family basement in Wanship. The Weeses began their exciting venture in October of 2009, bringing a new ‘it’ factor to the business. Sandra has an impressive marketing resume, and Rod spent 20 years as a chef in Park City.
The couple loaded up the trunk of their car with the delicious homemade jalapeño jelly and headed south to deliver product and find new vendors. One of their first stops was the Payson Market. After a quick taste, the cheesemonger called the market buyer, and they ordered 5 cases. A similar thing happened at each of their stops and by the time they reached St. George they were out of stock. With family in Grand Junction, a delivery route in Colorado was appealing to the Weeses. On their initial visit, Gourmet Food Store placed an order for 250 cases of Pepperlane jams, and within the year, their products were in Gourmet Food Stores everywhere. Currently, Pepperlane Products can be found in more than 30 states, thanks to five different distributors. “Lee’s Market Place in Heber has been a big supporter from the very beginning, as well as Smiths, Associated Foods, and Harmons,” adds Sandra. The Weeses delivered their product for two and a half years until 2014 when Sandra and Rod became the sole proprietors of Pepperlane Products and moved the business to Midway.
Sandra contributes their success to the passion they have, “The secret to our success and our products is the amount of love we put in every jar at Pepperlane.” Pepperlane Products are made and jarred entirely by hand; nothing is automated. Their staff of three, reduced from seven due to recent cutbacks, is comprised mostly of single parents, and the employees’ children frequently visit Sandra’s office to play.
Pepperlane Products boast a product line of 14 unique flavors ranging from mild to “Myer, Myer, Lemon on Fire” with habanero peppers. The Sneaky Hippie Line combines superfoods with the classic jelly format. Currently in the works is a flavor called “Passionate Hippie” made up of chia seeds, passion fruit, and dragon fruit, which will be available this summer. All of the preserves have fun names that pay homage to their creation story. “Rod is the mastermind behind most of the flavors; he enjoys experimenting,” explains Sandra.
To purchase, visit Pepperlane Products in Midway, on their website, or any local grocer.