G.I. Fireman is Hot Stuff in the Kitchen
Todd Morgan, a Grand Island, Neb. fire captain, makes and markets Sparky's Wing and Dippin' Sauce, which is available in two sizes.
That's the pledge on the label of Sparky's Wing and Dippin' Sauce, a creation by Capt. Todd Morgan of the Grand Island Fire Department.
But don't let the Firefighter Maltese Cross and Morgan's emergency medical service badge No. 62 on the label fool you: The sauce won't knock you out and leave you in need of resuscitation.
"It has a hot, sweet taste," Morgan said.
It's good for chicken, beef and pork, he said, and it's even good on eggs, baked beans, sandwiches and vegetables. It's tame enough that the kids in the home day care run by his wife, Fae, to eat it on french fries.
Brent Lindner, who owns the Sin City Grill in downtown Grand Island, uses it on one of his hamburgers.
"It has a nice consistency, creamy, and a nice spice," Lindner said.
He said there are lots of sauces on the market, but Sparky's stands out. The fact that it's local is all the better.
Marlin Schroeder at Schroeder's Smoked Foods will add the sauce to his menu when he moves to a new location next month.
"It's an excellent sauce," Schroeder said. "It has excellent flavor and the right amount of heat. So many sauces are hot and have no flavor. This doesn't."
When Morgan left a sample at a Hy-Vee Supermarket and was told he'd hear back in a week, he was shocked when the store personnel tracked him down shopping int he back of the store, wondering when shipments could be delivered.
"This has been a blast," Morgan said.
Cooking was his full-time job for 13 years at the former Village Inn in Grand Island. That's where he met Fae.
Morgan joined the Grand Island Fire Department in 1988, and an experience there about 16 years ago actually gave rise to the name of his wing sauce.
At a crash site, Morgan didn't hear the call to stand "all clear" so a victim's heart could be shocked with a defibrillator, and Morgan wound up getting shocked too.
When he got back to the station, his captain asked: "How you feeling, Sparky?" The nickname stuck.
Morgan has been tweaking the sauce recipe for six years, making a gallon here and a gallon there in his home kitchen in Grand Island. Last September, he felt he had finally perfected it.
There were no complains from tailgaters at Nebraska football games in Lincoln last fall. For years Morgan and his brother, Tyler, of Omaha have met at Husker games to tailgate. What started with a card table and an umbrella has progressed to a full-blown operation at 10th and L Streets.
Morgan's wife encouraged him to pursue selling Sparky's sauce. He produced 250 gallons this month. Home-size jars of 14 ounces sell for $4.99. It's enough for 10 dozen wings, Morgan aid. The gallon-size industrial bottles sell for $19.99 and provide enough to make 80 dozen wings.
It is sold in Grand Island stores and at www.sparkyswingsauce.com. He helps to market it through grocery distributors and eventually plans to offer two more creations: a hot habanero sauce and a garlic sauce.
"Firefighting is my career, college football is my passion, tailgating is my hobby and Sparky's is my talent," Morgan said.
Learn more at: www.sparkyswingsauce.com
Story by: Tracy Overstreet of the Omaha World-Herald