Get to Know Us
Our Humble Story
I’m Crazy Jerry, and my wife Betty Boop and I have owned Crazy Jerry’s Sauce Company since 1989.
Now people tell me that I need a story for our new website, so I’ll try to keep it short for ya… I was born a bona fide beach bum deep in the heart of the Redneck Riviera in Pensacola, Florida.
It was a different world when I was growing up. There were no high-rise buildings. The beaches were all pure white sand, dunes and sea oats. Nobody knew what a bathing suit was back then. Me and all my redneck friends wore cut-off Levis… even the girls. One of the reasons we wore them is because they had pockets to carry an oyster knife and a bottle of hot sauce. Just in case we would wind up on an oyster bed. Life was GREAT!!
Mom, Dad and me and my brothers were always going fishing, oystering, crabbing, scalloping, clamming, shrimping and flounder gigging in the flats at night. You didn’t have to be rich back then to have a GREAT time.
I spent some of my summers working at the Bayou Chico Marina in Pensacola with my granddad. My granddad was a dude. He joined the Navy when he was fifteen years old. He lied about his age. Here's a couple pictures of him back in the late thirties or early forties.
This photo was of his fishing boat in Pensacola. Check out the two bathing beauties
This is my granddad looking at a bi-plane that had developed engine trouble and had to set down in Pensacola Bay. The boat towing the plane didn’t have enough power and had to break off. My granddad towed the plane to shore.
This photo is of the boat that towed the plane to shore. The boat was named the Jeanne Arza. My granddad was the Captain of it for some rich guy in Pensacola. Just thought you might like to see these old pictures.
Later on I joined the Marine Corps. I was stationed in Hawaii for awhile. Now, the beaches there are nothing like good ol’ Pensacola beaches. But, there was an ocean for fishin’. One day old Sarge came up and said, Boys, if you think this place is a tropical paradise, just wait till you see where we’re going, you’re going to love it!
Just Horsin' Around!
Well the next thing I knew, me and an old Marine buddy, Doug Gollihue, who was a hillbilly from Kentucky, were squatting in the rain and mud, smack in the middle of Vietnam eating WW2 C-rations. It was then that we both came to the conclusion that old Sarge was full of crap!! I had a can of the Lima beans and they sucked.
Now, I have always loved Lima beans, but these were not what you would call fine dining. And, that was when I got the idea to come up with a hot sauce to help the governments’ head chef with this nasty concoction. I even wrote it down in a small notebook I carried with me. But, instead of Lima Beans, I decided to make it for oysters, because I really do love oysters!
After I rotated back to the world (which is what we call the United States of America), I met Betty Jean Allen, the most beautiful girl I had ever seen and I forgot all about my promise to make my hot sauce. And, we got married in 1969!
The Actual Book from Vietnam with my "ideas list"
Down the road a little bit in 1976, while going through some of my old Marine Corps stuff, I found the old notebook I carried in Nam with the idea I had to make my hot sauce. Well, I finally made the sauce in my home town Pensacola in 1976, but only for myself, family, and friends.
In 1988, after we had moved to Georgia for a job, a friend of mine, David Michels, who owned a small restaurant – oyster bar (where I used to go shuck oysters for the customers and of course for myself and would always take a bottle of my sauce with me) called me and said that he loved the sauce and wanted to know if Betty and I would make some for him for his restaurant. And, we did!
David’s restaurant had 14 tables… so, we made him 14 bottles. We hand wrote the labels and scotch taped them to the bottles and gave them to David. About 5 days later, David called us and said that there was a problem with the sauce. My first thought was “crap we’ve killed someone”! Fortunately, the problem was that every bottle had been stolen. And, David wanted to know if we would make him some more, which we did. Yep, they were stolen too.
Now, that’s when I got the idea of us starting a sauce company, because I thought that if the sauce was good enough to steal, it was good enough to sell. When I got up the nerve to ask Betty what she thought of us starting our own company, she looked at me like I was “crazy” and said “Jerry, sweetheart – you’re Crazy”! And, that folks is how our sauce company got the name Crazy Jerry’s, Inc.
Over the next 30 years, we added over 30 products to the Crazy Jerry's line. In 2018 we sold most of our products to one of our distributors under the Crazy Jerry’s label. But, we kept a few for ourselves, including the original Hot Sauce I made for oysters and a darn good family gumbo mix.
GUMBO MIX STORY
Now, our Gumbo Mix came from a recipe my great grandma Anna Roberson made and passed it down to my grandmother "who we called Nanny". And, she gave it to me 'cause I was her favorite grand kid, I think! And, I got it as close to the original recipe as I could. Great grandma was a hoot, she was a nurse hired by the state of Florida and worked with the Seminole Indians in the Okeechobee area. My mom told me that the Sate of Florida gave her an old boat and motor to get to some of the areas where a boat and motor was needed, cause this was "Old Florida". She worked with the Seminoles for 30 years, until she passed.
Ain't it amazing how certain things stick in your mind forever? I remember being down in Okeechobee with my grand parents when I was about 6 years old and my grand daddy told me, "come on Bo, let's go see mama"...so, we jumped in the old pickup and took off. By the way, everybody called me Bo growing up because my uncle Billy had a speech impediment and he tried to call me little boy when I was born, it came out "Bo Diddle" and thankfully was shortened to Bo.
Anyway, when me and grand daddy got to the reservation, I remember meeting a lot of nice people... the Chickee Huts and I especially remember my bigger than life great grandma wearing the bright colored clothing that a lot of the Seminoles wore. Needless to say, I was one impressed little boy!
"Ya Gotta Love Grandmas" and ya gotta try her Gumbo Mix!
Well, there's lots more I could talk about, but I know y'all gotta be gettin' tired. So, if you have any questions, just give us a holler!
Have a great day!
Crazy Jerry & Betty Boop