6 Iowa-Made Products, From Hot Sauce to Popcorn, Foodies Have to Try

By Sean Dengler

March 2, 2023

Are you feeling adventurous? How about Iowa adventurous?

Here are some Iowa-made products you should try for an authentic Iowa foodie experience. (Already tried them? Tell us what you think in the comments.)

Brown Dogs Farm

Located outside of Norwalk and established in 2018, Brown Dogs Farm’s name comes from the owners, Robb and Amanda Prohaska’s three brown dogs. These pooches play an influential (and adorable) role in the company.

Brown Dogs Farm makes a variety of hot sauces. Its most popular flavors are Ghost Pineapple, Habanero Peach, and Ghost Pear. Brown Dogs Farm’s standard hot sauce, which released in April of last year, is also rapidly gaining fans, according to Robb.

Brown Dogs Farms also have two dressings and dips, and of course they’re both ranch: Ranch and Spicy Ranch.

You can order off its website or go to the “Find Us” tab on their website to see what stores you can buy Brown Dogs Farm hot sauces at, including Hy-Vee, Fareway, Heart of Iowa Market Place, and West Forty Market.

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Black Silo Coffee Roasting

In 2017, Black Silo Coffee Roasting started in a garage using a chicken rotisserie. While starting slow, only producing one pound of roasted beans an hour, Black Silo Coffee Roasting did a lot of taste testing and experimenting with different coffees.

Located in Altoona and owned by Bill Myers, it became one of two roasters in the state of Iowa in 2017 to use the hot air method. This rarely used coffee-making method makes it less acidic and bitter than drum-roasted coffee, causing the chaf—the outer husk of the bean—to break away from the bean instead of getting smoked and burnt in the traditional method. They say this leads to a more consistent roast and flavor in every batch.

Popular flavors include their Guatemala coffee, Rio Dolce; their Ethiopian coffee, Black Nile; and their Congolese coffee, Smooth Bourbon.

Black Silo Coffee Roasting coffee can be ordered off its website, and for coffee lovers, Black Silo Coffee Roasting offers a subscription plan. Their coffee is also located in various parts of Iowa including Fareway, Hy-Vee, and more.

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Big Daddy’s Original Bar-B-Q

Originally opened in 1983 on the first floor of a two-story house in Des Moines, Big Daddy’s Bar-B-Q’s final location was on Des Moines’ east side.

Owner and Big Daddy himself, Ike Seymour, operated this restaurant during its heyday from the 1980s to the 2000s. He began selling barbecue sauces to local grocery stores in the early ‘90s.

Unfortunately, he passed in 2004, but his popular sauces live on.

There are eight flavors of barbecue sauces available through their website. The most popular sauce is their Original Mild. Other popular sauces are the Sweet hot sauce which has a little bite to it, Appelicious sauce, and the Spicy Applelicious sauce, which the site says goes well with pulled pork.

The sauces are sold throughout Iowa, including at Fareway stores.

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Cedar Creek Popcorn

Milo Lines bought Noble Popcorn in 1986 and transitioned this small Sac City company from one that only supplied raw popcorn for corporate gift and fundraising across the United States into a company making a variety of popcorn.

Almost Famous Popcorn bought the company in March 2022, according to the Western Iowa Advantage, and changed the name to Cedar Creek Popcorn after a prominent river near Sac City.

Not to bury the lede, but Cedar Creek Popcorn also boasts the biggest attraction in Sac City: The world’s largest popcorn ball, which is 12 feet across and weighing in at 9,730 pounds.

Photo by Sean Dengler for Iowa Starting Line

Popular flavors include their Caramel and Cheddar Cheese popcorn. New flavors included Caramel Corn and French Vanilla.

Cedar Creek Popcorn can be purchased off their website, Tractor Supply Company, and other stores.

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Kramer’s Foods

Kramer’s Foods of Camanche was started in 1999 by Tom and Linda Kramer using ingredients from their home garden and their home commercial kitchen to make salsa.

They quickly moved to a bigger manufacturing facility in Ankeny. In 2018, the Kramers retired and sold the business to Jordon Elwell and family.

Kramer’s Foods’ most popular products are the Mild Salsa, Medium Salsa, Hot Salsa, and Raspberry Jalapeno Jam. Kramer’s Foods also makes taco sauces like Garlic Serrano hot sauce and Red Habanero hot sauce. They use premium fresh chopped vegetable salsa, which they note is not made from water or starch.

These products can be found at Hy-Vee, Target, Walmart, Fareway, and other small independent grocery stores.

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Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse

Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse cures their meats in the “old-world way,” with their long-held recipes dating all the way back to the Amana Colonies communal times.

Their most popular products include the hams, breaded pork tenderloins, bacon, beef jerky, bratwurst, and many more, according to a company representative.

One best-seller is the V.I.P. Special, which consists of smoked ham, smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, German-style mustard, and other meats and cheeses.

The Amana Society has owned this business for 165 years, and their mail order business has been in place for 50 years. They also have a wholesale side of their business, and customers can also order off their website.

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By Sean Dengler

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