Ser!ous Bean Co. Puts the Fun in Baked Beans

Despite the word "serious" being in the name of his product, Trey Taylor, director of marketing for Lakeside Foods, in Manitowoc, Wis., likes to have a little fun with his brand. Ser!ous Bean Company-the canned beans that Taylor and Matt Brown created under their Arkansas-based business, Good Eats Foods Company-puts an innovative kick into canned baked beans with flavors like Dr. Pepper, Buckin' Buffalo, Sweet & Smoky Chipotle and JW's Prized Cracked Pepper.

The name Ser!ous Bean came from one of their private equity investors who tried a sample of the product and exclaimed, "Wow, those are some serious beans!" Taylor related. He and Brown launched Ser!ous Bean Co. in April in 2,600 Walmart stores. This past June, Lakeside Foods acquired Good Eats Food Co., which allows Taylor and Brown more latitude to focus on marketing and product development. Taylor worked in the food and beverage industry for more than 20 years, and during his tenure with Dr. Pepper, he learned how people used the famous carbonated beverage in their barbecue sauces and marinades. "It tenderizes meats and gives foods a unique flavor and sweetness," Taylor said. "It seemed like a good fit for baked beans."

When Brown and Taylor worked together at a canned food manufacturer that the latter described as "the behemoth of canned beans," he noticed that how, despite that company having a good product, nobody had really challenged them. "We looked at canned beans and thought about what's going on with craft beer and even the fun flavors of artisan potato chips, and we thought that beans are a fun category-great for grilling and tailgating-so where were all the fun flavors in the bean category?"

Taylor and Brown developed Ser!ous Bean's four flavors, meticulously adjusting spice and heat levels until they achieved the desires tastes. The Dr. Pepper Baked Beans blends a spicy kick with the sweetness of the 23 different Dr. Pepper flavors. The recipe for JW's Prized Cracked Pepper came from a friend in Arkansas who retired from a canned beans company that produced a recipe exclusively for restaurants. "It was a traditional baked beans recipe, and we put our own twist on it with cracked pepper," Taylor said. The medium heat goes well with baked potatoes and nachos.

Making Canned Food Cool Again

The Buckin' Buffalo Beans echoes the tangy, spicy and sweet flavors of buffalo sauce. Taylor recommends it alone or as a dip blended with blue cheese or cream cheese. The Sweet & Smoky Chipotle Pinto Beans with Tomatoes is slightly spicy, and the hearty smokiness of chipotle comes through. It goes well with Mexican dishes and can be used in soups and chili.

All four varieties are vegan, with no artificial preservatives or flavors. The beans are sourced from growers in Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota, and the cans are BPA-free. Each can has a batch number that indicates at which attempt they nailed the recipe. Taylor jokes that "Ace"-the bean-shaped mascot on each can-dreamed from an early age about revolutionizing canned beans.

As of September, Ser!ous Bean Co. can also be found in area Meijer stores. "There's an assumption that canned foods are laden with chemicals and preservatives, and maybe years ago it was, so canned food got a bit of a bad rep. But, home canning is on trend, and food manufacturers use the same process of high temperatures and water to make a tight seal. We can make canned food cool again."

For more information, visit seriousbeanco.com.

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer who enjoys capturing the stories behind Milwaukee's happening food, beverage and urban farming scenes. She also pens articles about holistic health, green living, sustainability and human-interest features.

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