STURGEON BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — While living on an old farmhouse in 1994, Rita Hunt recalls getting venison sausage from her friends. And she wanted to add a little extra flavor.
“I started making small batches of mustard,” she said. “My sister gave me the recipe and made small batches of mustard.”
Soon after, she and her husband Dave turned their version of the condiment into a business.
“From six pints on the stovetop to 50 gallons,” he said.
Initially, winning an award for their product seemed like a long shot for the couple.
“There were several trips to the landfill until we found the right mustard,” Dave said.
Now, 26 years later, their recipe is in the global spotlight.
Door County Mustard just won the bronze medal at the World Mustard Contest.
“It was word of mouth and it was a really good race,” Dave said. “We didn’t expect to be third in the world.”
The prize was awarded by the National Mustard Museum for the “Sweet-Hot” category.
“We’re a small business,” Dave said. “It’s my wife and me. Our daughter and my sister help us.”
Their mustard is processed, which means it is cooked. The family says this method gives it a unique taste.
“We have to be careful,” Dave said. “Otherwise we burn it. And we burned a few of them.”
Since Door County Mustard got its brand in 1996, the company has successfully distributed to 17 retailers.
“No plans to get bigger,” Dave said. “We’ve both had careers before, and we’re getting older so we don’t want to work that hard.”
The hunts do plan to pass the now award-winning business on to their children.
“We’ll see what happens, and low and behold, we have a third one,” Dave said. “We’re very happy about that and just happy to be where we are after 26 years.”