Rosella's Famous Sweet Potato Hush Puppies
The recipe for Rosella Baked Goods is family. Business is personal for Ray Dukes, who is honoring his father’s dream with his delicious mixes for sweet potato hush puppies, pancakes and waffles. Today, you can find Rosella hush puppies at Farmview Market, among other retailers.
Rooted in Family
Ray did not grow up necessarily wanting to be in the food and beverage business. Ray’s father, Curtis, was always the food guy. He ran a successful seafood restaurant in Columbia, SC, serving wildly popular sweet potato hush puppies. When the restaurant closed, Curtis knew that he had a sweet potato-sized hole in the universe to fill, and started planning Rosella Baked Goods, which he figured should diversify beyond just hush puppies.
Well, life got in the way, as happens from time to time, and Rosella didn’t really get off the ground. In fact, it wasn’t until Curtis was diagnosed with cancer, that he found himself energized anew and obsessed with the desire to bring his company to market. Seeing how important this was to his father was what fueled Ray, who wanted to help make his father’s dream a reality. It was a pet project for father and son until Curtis passed away in 2014.
At that time, Ray knew that it would be his mission to run this business and bring Rosella and its sweet potato hush puppies to the masses, which he and his wife, Monique, have been doing ever since without looking back.
It truly is a family affair. Ray and Monique run the business together, with both jumping in where needed to “get it done.” Whether it’s restocking shelves at the 15 or so retailers who carry their products, filling orders or cooking up and serving some of their delicious samples at the many food shows and in-store demos they do, they are always on the go.
The extended family is involved, as well. Ray’s mom can often be seen at Farmview Market doing demos alongside the couple. Monique’s parents will drive in from Warner Robins to help on the weekends. Ray’s sister jumps in from time to time, too. Even the name Rosella honors two of the family’s matriarchs, Rosalie, Ray’s grandmother, and her mother Ellen, both of whom taught Curtis to cook.
Creating a Legacy to Last
Food shows, Farmers Markets and retailers like Farmview Market are their best opportunity to introduce their products to consumers and have them try them out. They hope to have wider distribution someday to reach the masses and are looking into having a mass online distributor carry their mixes, which could take them to another level. Rosella mixes are not only delicious, but appeal to a wide variety of picky eaters and are vegan-friendly, and easy to make - just add water!
Ray and Monique know that they aren’t just creating a company, but are creating a legacy. One day they hope that the company that is named for the family, the company that was his father’s dream, will be something they can pass along to their own kids.