On West Winter Avenue in Elmwood, Wisconsin, you’ll discover an award-winning family meat market and processor – and a true local gem.
Sailer’s Food Market & Meat Processing serves an immediate population of 865, and sits tucked in between towns with such idyllic names as Comfort and Spring Valley.
“My great-grandfather, Frank Sailer, Sr. came over from Austria to the U.S. in 1918 looking for a better life,” says Jake Sailer, owner. “He said the hills in western Wisconsin reminded him of back home, so he settled here.”
Five generations of meat processors and a solid reputation built up among the locals have kept Sailer’s in business for 96 years. Jake and his father Ric, took over in 1995 after Ric’s father, Frank Jr., retired.
“In 1923, our first building on Main Street had a sawdust floor. We moved to a new more modern building in 2006. Many of the old machines have been replaced, but we still use a Leland 200# mixer which Frank Senior used for years.”
There’s a lot of meat history here, especially Sailer’s ring bologna, which was Jake’s great-grandfather’s original recipe.
“I still remember the way he would make bologna – 200 pounds every Tuesday,” Jake recalls. “Grinding, mixing and stuffing all took place on Monday. On Tuesday, it would go to the block house for smoking, to the kettle to cook in water, and then to the cooling vat with cold water. The bologna would go to a roller with hooks to the cooler.
“Customers would always be at the store at 3:00 on Tuesday afternoon to have hot bologna with saltine crackers and beer. They always served three to five rings hot. The next best event was when Grandpa made liver sausage. We would eat it out of the mixer to make sure it was just right. We still do that today.”
Grandpa’s bacon is still made at Sailer’s, though it’s less salty and more flavorful following a few tweaks at customers’ requests. Today, it’s a best seller, along with their ham.
“Ham is something we have always produced, but we added some ingredients from Grandpa’s recipe. Thanks to Excalibur Seasoning’s California Ham Spice, our ham won Grand Champion Awards at the Wisconsin State Fair, State Convention, National Convention and International Gold Medals.”
Sailer’s began a working relationship with Excalibur in 2003, when Bob Anderson called on the company and Jake started buying new spices. When Sailer’s moved into the new building in 2006, a new salesman, Rick McLimans, was on board and became a good friend to the Sailer family.
“By 2006-2007, we started buying everything from Excalibur Seasoning. We make approximately 200 products and use their rubs, seasonings, sauces and marinades in everything we do.”
That includes Excalibur’s K Pepperoni Unit, which Jake says provides amazing flavor to their Jalapeno Cheddar Stix; or Better Burger Seasoning to make plain ground beef into a burger fit for a king. Excalibur’s Kansas City Rub is used on Sailer’s briskets, vacuum sealed and sold in their store.
“Excalibur helped us develop our Jake Steak and Sailer Sizzler marinade,” recalls Jake. “The marinade is the same for each product, just a different type of muscle. They helped us come up with a solution to fit our needs and wants. Tweaking the Beefy Steak marinade also helped us produce one of our most popular marinated steaks.”
The connection between Sailer’s and Excalibur is more than combining the right mixture in the bacon and ring bologna that continue to fly off the store shelf each day. Jake says Excalibur is consistent with seasonings or blends. They’re always on time with their orders and available to him when needed.
“I enjoy that Rick McLimans and the rest of their team have built a relationship with us that feels like family. I’m gratified that Sailer’s makes consistent award-winning products using Excalibur Seasonings. I even wear my Excalibur shirt at the awards ceremonies to bring me good luck. I want to make the boys proud.”