CHICAGO — Fans of Harold’s Chicken and its intoxicating mild sauce now can enjoy the condiment anywhere as bottles of the tangy concoction have hit supermarket shelves.
Sixteen-ounce bottles are available at select Pete’s Fresh Markets in the city and suburbs and at south suburban-based Walt’s Food Center, Harold’s owner Kristen Pierce said.
Harold’s mild sauce has been available online through the company’s corporate site. But most bottles were for restaurant use only, and it was rare someone could buy a bottle for personal use.
Pierce made the move to start selling the popular sauce at grocery stores in early September after years of trying to make it more available to fans. She said she also has struck a deal with Save A Lot and several other grocers to carry the sauce.
The response has been overwhelming, with one man’s Facebook post announcing the news generating a lot of buzz. People from as far as Alaska and Hawaii have been trying to get their hands on the sauce, Pierce said.
Making the sauce available in select stores was part of a plan to “set the presence” in hopes of getting the response they’re seeing now, Pierce said.
“It was something we contemplated on. I didn’t think we were were going to sell out; but we just knew that it would be a great success,” Pierce said.
Pierce said the restaurant will soon resume online sales.
“We had to stop online sales due to COVID-19 because it was hard to stay on top of shipments. We weren’t certain when the orders would be coming in,” Pierce said.
Bottling the iconic sauce — a blend of ketchup, barbecue sauce and hot sauce that’s become a staple of Black Chicago chicken restaurants — has proved controversial in recent years.
Last year, a Lincoln Park-based company began selling That Mild Sauce, stoking ire from Chicagoans who thought white entrepreneurs were improperly co-opting and cashing in on something Black restaurants created and perfected decades earlier.
Charmaine Rickette, owner of Uncle Remus Saucy Fried Chicken, said last year she had her eye on branching out into the retail market but worried making the sauce widely available would dissuade people from coming in to get the chicken.
According to Uncle Remus’ website, the company sells mild sauce online, but there’s no mention of it being available in stores.
Harold’s Chicken launched in 1950 and has dozens of locations across Illinois and several other states.
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