Bill “Gramp’s” Brickner started making pickles and beets for fun. He gave them away to clients, family and friends at Christmas time and other occasions. His children and wife encouraged him to sell them at a local Farmers Market and that is where it all began! In 2005, Bill “Gramp's” Brickner and his wife Janet “Grams” Brickner started Gramp’s Gourmet Foods, Inc. in their hometown of Scales Mound, IL. (Scales Mound is located in Northwestern Illinois - 10 minutes from scenic Galena, IL.) They converted the utility room on the side of their house into a state certified canning kitchen. And with the help of their son, Bryan, and youngest daughter, Bette; Gramp’s went back to the kitchen and did what he loves…creating pickle and beet recipes.
They started with their Original “unique blend of sweet & sour” pickles, but customers kept suggesting and asking for different flavors. In response, Gramp’s has since concocted 18 flavors of Sweet & Sour Pickles (his version of a bread & butter pickle), Sour Dill Pickles and Pickled Beets. His flavors include Garlic, Horseradish, Jalapeno and Habanero. In addition his two specialty blends; sour dill Jalapeno/Garlic and “Kickers” are also customer favorites. The “Kickers” came into being when his two oldest daughters complained that they couldn’t find a good Bloody Mary pickle. After experimenting with a variety of flavor combinations he landed on the perfect balance of Horseradish, Garlic and Jalapeno all in a semi-sweet brine. While in our opinion this is hands down the best Bloody Mary pickle you’ll ever find, we also won’t hold it against you if you try any of our flavors in your favorite version of a Sunday morning “red drink.”
Over the next few years, Gramp’s slowly expanded his business to more farmers markets, specialty shops, regional grocery stores and online. In 2011, the business moved from the original 7x12 kitchen into a 2500 square foot building in Scales Mound, IL. The new building provided Gramp’s a dedicated mixing room where he can continue to make his secret potions. Expanded spaces for canning and storage were also added to keep up with the growing demand for his products. And, they were able to add a small retail area, where you can pull up a chair by the stove to enjoy a chat and a sampling of his products
Gramp’s and Gram decided to build their own State and FDA certified facility because they wanted the products to continue to be produced by hand in small batches. It also gave them the opportunity to provide jobs in the local community where they have spent their lives and have family roots going back generations. At 75, Gramp’s is still creating new recipes. He splits the cooking responsibilities with his son-in-law, but he continues to oversee all the production himself.
Over the years each of Gramps and Grams 4 children have helped out with the business in some capacity. Currently their daughter Bette Brickner Trimble works with them full time as Chief Operations Officer. Their son-in-law Larry Werner works part-time sharing the cooking and making sure the facility is kept in top order. Family friends Jim Cox and Kim Holinbeck work in sales and marketing providing support to the company’s continued growth.
Gramp’s Gourmet Foods current product line consists of the items below. Keep watching though because he isn’t done yet!
All of Gramp’s pickle varieties are available in slices or spears. They are all hand cut, hand packed and produced in small batches using minimally processed base ingredients which are personally selected by Gramp’s himself.