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Taste Test

It pays to get saucy.

When Dan Murphy and Brian Scoggins first started concocting their own barbecue sauces, their products were real crowd-pleasers. "Everyone kept telling us we had the greatest barbecue sauces in the world and we should do something about it," says Murphy. "Fourteen years ago, we did."

Now the co-owners of Johnny D's Barbeque Co. in Cypress, California, have a larger audience--and a lot more competition.

But Murphy, 39, and Scoggins, 46, found a way to make their barbecue bastes and marinades the ones that people sniff out of the crowd: They throw a good old-fashioned barbecue and let their South Carolina-style sauces do the talking.

"Our products are so different," explains Murphy, who hopes to gross $600,000 this year, "you just have to barbecue with them so people can get an idea what we're all about."

Nowadays, you can spot the pair throughout the country at barbecue competitions, special events and charity functions. In May, they even trekked to England for a barbecue and blues festival.

Typically, tasters will buy the marinades and bastes on the spot, but Johnny D's also sells nationwide through gourmet grocers, butcher shops, barbecue specialty stores and mail order. Each sauce goes for around $4 and is suited for a particular meat--like HawgWash for pork, Angus Stock for beef or Bird Bath for chicken.

Hungry, anyone?

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Karen E. Spaeder is a freelance business writer in Southern California.

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This article was originally published in the September 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Taste Test.

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