Iowa Made: These Five Snack And Drink Products Come From Iowa

Photos by Sean Dengler

By Sean Dengler

May 4, 2022

The people have spoken and they want more Iowa Made product stories!

Unlike last time, I am tasting these Iowa Made products and will be the guide to your future Iowa Made product endeavors. Do not take me too seriously, I loved ketchup sandwiches as a child. I recommend trying each of these products at least once. At best, you become an avid fan. At worst, you help these local Iowa businesses. 

Sterzing’s Potato Chips

Photo by Sean Dengler

The Sterzing’s Potato Chips bag is distinct with its yellow color and red text. At any store, your eyes will not miss these Burlington-made potato chips. For more than 80 years, Sterzing’s has produced potato chips. They are also confident enough to include these iconic words on their packaging, “Tri-Some.”

Sean’s Take: 

These chips tasted like potatoes which is weird to write, but in a world of highly-processed foods, Sterzing’s Potato Chips are refreshing. These chips are unique, unlike the salty and greasy national chip brands. Most national brand potato chips are like, “Can I get more potato chip with all that salt?” Sterzing’s is not. This taste puts these chips above other potato chip brands. While eating these chips, their crunch is on par with most other brands.

Due to a Federal Drug Administration ban on trans-fat a few years ago, Sterzing’s altered its recipe. This did not sit well with its customers. While I wish I possessed a time-traveling machine or a mailbox for my lover in another time to send me the Sterzing’s Potato Chips with the old recipe, I do not have that luxury. While I cannot compare to the past recipe, this current version is worth the try. 

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Farmers Best Premium White Popcorn

Photo by Sean Dengler

Farmers Best Premium White Popcorn has the best popcorn packaging with the perfect shade of blue. This Worthington business, located in Dubuque County, is owned and operated by the farmer who grows the corn. Unlike large commercial popcorn companies, Farmers Best popcorn is stored in a climate-controlled warehouse. According to a Dyersville Commercial article, owner Jon Ramaekers noted Farmers Best popcorn is hull-less so rarely does it get stuck between teeth.

Sean’s Take:

For your information, I did not add salt, butter, or my mom’s favorite, M&M’S, to this stovetop popcorn. I wanted the full experience of this white popcorn. While white popcorn is not my typical choice, I was surprised how much I enjoyed this popcorn. While not the biggest popped popcorn, it packs a punch. This also had a 100% popping rate—no kernels were left behind.

This popcorn tastes like most other popcorn, but it does stand out with how fast it melted in my mouth. I can also confirm Jon’s statement as no kernel got stuck between my teeth. This is a good popcorn brand to replace the national ones while also supporting an Iowa farmer. 

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Verena Street Coffee Co.

Photo courtesy of Verena Street Coffee Co.

The founders wanted to honor their heritage by naming their coffee company after the Verena Street in Dubuque they grew up on. Available in more than 800 stores throughout the Midwest, this coffee is made in small batches. They use three to four different bean profiles to create a unique flavor while sourcing their coffees from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. 

Sean’s Take:

I am not a coffee drinker so I did not brew myself a cup of Verena Street. This did not matter after I visited the local grocery store and was shocked. Shelving space is typically taken up by the national brands, but when I went to the coffee aisle, I was surprised at how much shelving space was devoted to Verena Street Coffee. From the top to the bottom shelf, Verena Street lined a four-foot space with assorted flavors such as Shot Tower Espresso, Crop Circles, and many more. I also spoke with a couple of friends who drink coffee, and Verena Street was their top choice. That is all I need to know Verena Street is the coffee to recommend.

Editor’s note: This is the coffee that Ty drinks. Cow Tipper and Julien’s Breakfast Blend are his go-to flavors.

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Iowa Country Honey Mustard

Photo courtesy of Denison Mustard Co.

According to owner and third-generation mustard maker, Jessica Slater-Hayes, Denison Mustard Co. was originally founded in 1885. Her step-grandfather, Garth Fuller, purchased the business in 1957. Denison Mustard Co. originally only made the stone-ground mustard recipe until Jessica’s mom developed new flavors in 1997. The first was Iowa Country Honey Mustard.

The business is located just outside of Denison in Crawford County.

Sean’s Take:

As a lover of honey mustard on my turkey sandwiches, this mustard did not disappoint. The mustard seeds provide a quick and powerful kick which was delightful. Unlike me, do not take hits of only the honey mustard unless you want to clear out your sinuses. When added to my turkey sandwich topped with peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce, the honey mustard provides the perfect balance, turning a bland sandwich into a mouthwatering sandwich. For your sake, I am overzealous with condiments. I might apply more than others do.

Photo by Sean Dengler

Compared to the generic honey mustard bought from a national chain, Iowa Country Honey Mustard has the unique taste, despite only having five ingredients—vinegar, mustard seed, water, honey, and salt. Mustard lovers will love it, but if you’re not one, at least give it a whirl and then move on to another Iowa product.

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Templeton Rye

Photo by Sean Dengler

While the brand and bottling started in 2006, Templeton Rye was not fully home until 2018 after it built a distillery in Templeton, according to spokesperson Tim Grimes. Inspired by Templeton’s distilling history during Prohibition, Templeton Rye was one of the first distilleries to make rye whiskey popular in the modern era. This success has led to it being among the top in the nation for rye whiskey sales. This is due to “quality-focused production” inside a $36 million distillery sitting in a cornfield in a town of around 360 people.

Photo courtesy of Templeton Rye

Sean’s Take: 

I do not drink alcoholic beverages such as Templeton Rye, as I’m a sugary drink type of drinker and appletinis are my jam, so I’m grading on a curve. This meant I was not going to the local grocery store to buy a handle of Templeton Rye. Instead, I went down to my favorite watering hole and my favorite bartender poured me a glass of Templeton Rye neat. 

Photo by Sean Dengler

It was strong and burned. While it smelled like butterscotch and caramel, it tasted like unleaded 89. While overwhelming, it felt warm going down my swallowing pipe to my stomach. That is a medical term, right? Templeton Rye touched every bit of my palette with its syrupy thickness. 

I also ordered a Sazerac. The Templeton Rye was aided by other ingredients such as Peychaud’s Bitters, sugar cube, and Pernod. This helped the drink to go down smoother. There was less syrup thickness, it was more refreshing, and had less of a gasoline taste. The introduction of the citrus flavor and chilling of the rye and the drink made for a tolerable libation. Whether neat or mixed, Templeton Rye needs to be slow sipped, especially for me, because it does not easily go down.


by Sean Dengler

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