A family tradition

Published 11:33 pm Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Plantersville native is making a name for herself across the state in the world of barbecue.

Helen Bearden Alexander began making barbecue sauce from an original recipe created over 50 years ago. She made it for family and friends in her small kitchen.

Now, she is allowing everyone to experience the taste of that recipe in Mama Helen’s Barbeque Sauce, which can be found in restaurants and some stores in Chilton County.

“Mama Helen” has always been known as a great cook, as well as baker and griller. Her sauce spread about the Plantersville and surrounding communities from family to family, friend to friend and co-worker to co-worker. As years passed it became more and more popular. With all the buzz about Mama Helen’s sauce, they knew that it was time to market the delicious and unique sauce through grocery stores.

Tracy Bearden Haynes, daughter of Mama Helen’s son, Elijah Bearden, used her business degree from UAB to do the research, come up with a business model and market her grandmother’s sauce that’s a local legend in and around her hometown. Bearden’s Unique Products Inc. was launched and began manufacturing the sauce. Elijah, CFO and Tracy, CEO desire to carry on the legacy of Mama Helen.

Other family members including Elijah’s son, Alvin Bearden and his wife Zsaquanda serve in a sales and distribution capacity.

“Everybody who works there is related and is involved in cooking, bottling or distributing from their small factory in Plantersville,” Haynes said. “Elijah’s wife, Catherine, and daughter, LaKesha, lend support to their family. Even the grandchildren Aaron and Ariel Bearden, twins of Alvin and Zsaquanda are learning good work ethics at an early age, passing out flyers and inviting customers for a taste test during their marketing events at various grocery stores.”

Good reviews from customers have put the sauce and Chilton County small town in the limelight.

Mama Helen’s Barbeque Sauce is now on local grocery stores shelves and served in several restaurants.

It was initially shelved locally at Todd’s Produce. Now it is also available on various other grocery store shelves in Mystic’s Peach Park, Peach Park Express; Maplesville Grocery, Fat Daddy’s, Pickering’s Supermarket, Calhoun’s Grocery’s food chains (in Selma, Montgomery and Tuskegee) and other stores. Some restaurants that serve it include Little Suzy Q’s, Brandon’s Place and Clara’s Place. It is also available on their Web site at www.MamaHelens.com.

Mama Helen’s Barbeque Sauce comes in original, hot and peach. Mama Helens’s has clientele as far as Texas, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, New York and Delaware, hitting all points of the U.S.

– from staff reports