The Full Story
It all started with a pizza party, as most gravy companies do! In 1875, the Van Snoodle family turkeys got loose and famously, the family had a pizza party instead of a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.
As the generations have come and gone, the Van Snoodles have become bona fide Thanksgiving culinary experts, passing down recipes for green bean casserole with a perfect mix of creaminess and crunch, flawless melt-in-your-mouth dinner rolls, and the graviest gravy anyone had ever tasted.
Good Gravy Company’s story began in 1946. Great-Grandma Gertie, a proud member of the Van Snoodle Family, was just 11 years old when she decided to start her own gravy company with her adaptation of the secret family recipe.
Each Van Snoodle family member received a Thanksgiving recipe on their seventh birthday (Even Great-Aunt Carol, who couldn’t cook, was given a recipe when she turned seven in 1944: store-bought cranberry jelly: open the lid, shake onto a serving plate in one piece; cutting guides already provided).
Great-Grandma Gertie was gifted the greatest gravy recipe ever known on her seventh birthday in 1942. According to family lore, Great-Grandma Gertie, when making her first batch of the Van Snoodle’s famous brown gravy, added something secret to the recipe. The family gasped in horror as she improvised an ingredient–no child had ever done such a thing to their sacred secret sides!
It was delicious! Gertie, as it turns out, was a gravy genius!
She quickly began to expand her stock of stock-based recipes, expanding to all kinds of gravy. That same year, she entered three types of gravy into the county fair’s Gravy Cookoff. Not only did she place third, but also second and first! Her traditional brown gravy took first, her sawmill gravy took second, and her chocolate gravy took third.
Her brown gravy win qualified her to compete at the state fair. Unfortunately, her whisk broke mid-cookoff, and her gravy burned slightly. Gertie’s “most disastrous gravy ever cooked,” in her words, came in second that year.
The following year, she set out more determined than ever to take the top gravy prize. She easily swept the county fair once again, and moved on to state, this time brandishing her own stainless steel, reinforced whisk. She took the top prize and moved on to Nationals, better known as the Great Gravy Games, in Washington DC.
Unfortunately, the family couldn’t afford to go to the Great Gravy Games. Every Van Snoodle from Autumn Falls to Gravy Grove to Stuffing Springs scraped together their spare change, but it wouldn’t be enough.
Then, a neighbor knocked on Gertie’s door, begging for a batch of Gertie’s gravy. Gertie whipped up a batch, and the neighbor handed her $20, the equivalent of $350 in 2023. Gertie, of course, refused the generous gift, but it gave her an idea.
She began furiously whipping up batches upon batches of gravy. The whole family came together to put the gravy in jars, and soon, folks were flocking from the surrounding cities, then states to purchase a jar of the gravy, which they labeled hastily with the words, “Gertie’s Good Gravy.”
Soon, Gertie had the funds to bring her entire family to the Great Gravy Games in 1943. What was left of both the gravy and the funds, she donated to her local soup kitchen.
The family traveled by train, and upon seeing the huge venue for her competition, Gertie started to realize the gravitas of the situation: she was only eight years old, competing against the best gravy makers in the country. At that very moment, her mom, Agnes, slipped her most prized possession, a chicken-shaped egg timer, into Gertie’s apron pocket and whispered in her daughter’s ear, “It’ll bring you good luck.”
And it did! She took first place at the Great Gravy Games, the youngest person ever to achieve such a rank. Part of her winnings included a contract with the United States Military to develop a recipe for powdered gravy packets to send to the troops overseas. Many soldiers swore that the war would have gone on much longer, had it not been for Good Gravy.
Gertie continued to compete in every gravy-related contest, cookoff, and even pageant she could find. While her friends and family begged her to open a business, she refused to gain from her gravy as long as the war continued. She sent cans, jars, packets, and every kind of gravy she could imagine overseas for the troops, and competed only to make ends meet. She returned to, and won, the Great Gravy Games for several years. She was even invited to an elite, invitation-only contest called the Au Jus Journey. The contest takes competitors to each continent, including Antarctica, to learn gravy styles from around the world. The competitors then compete to make their own adaptations of these global gravies. Of course, Gertie won the Aus Jus Journey on her first try.
Once the war ended in 1945, Gertie reconsidered opening a business. Troops were returning home from war and were asking their loved ones to try to recreate Good Gravy, but with no luck. Gertie decided that outstanding gravy should be available to anyone, regardless of their cooking skills, so with the help of her parents, she opened The Good Gravy Company on her 11th birthday, April 5, 1946.
Her mother, who had been a riveter during the war, oversaw manufacturing, and her father, who had served overseas, got into the world of advertising. Gertie took over as president in the early 1950s, and continued running the company while she finally found the time to get married and start her own family.
Good Gravy Company thought it had hit its peak in 1965. Gertie planned to sell the business and settle down with her family. She even started a public relations campaign, looking for a buyer, and built a huge home near Stuffing Springs in preparation for the change. Then one day she remembered how her daughter, Gracy, had picked up a whisk at just four years old and created her own gravy recipe. Gertie knew then Gracy was meant to take over Good Gravy.
And Gracy did, in 1990, long after she had beaten her mother’s records, and won the Au Jus Journey three times. Today, the entire team lovingly refers to her as Grandma Gracy. She expanded the flavors and the boundaries of gravy for a new generation, introducing Good Gravy’s first Chili Gravy in 1992, and Good Gravy’s Masala in 1997.
Gracy’s husband Gavin, or Grandpa Gavin to the team, is the Chief Tasting Officer. His discerning tastebuds can detect even minor mistakes in a batch. One Thanksgiving, he almost refused to touch his favorite, Classic Brown Good Gravy because he said the flour was a day too old… and this is a man who would drink gravy straight out of the boat if he could. He’s the one who coined the phrase, “Gee Whillikers, that’s some Good Gravy!” for the company. Not on purpose, it’s just what he shouts when he has a perfect batch of gravy. Our whole team shudders to think what might happen if that family ever ran out of gravy on Thanksgiving Day…
Gracy and Gavins’ daughter Gail will soon take over. She’s been developing the brand on social media, and plans to introduce wacky new promotional flavors. “Oreo cookies have been around for 111 years, and beat out Hydrox cookies because they were willing to play with new flavors, and that’s where we’re heading!” says Gail.
Of course, the fourth generation is already showing promise as well. 10-year-old Gabby has swept competitions in her age group, and this year will compete in her first Au Jus Journey–they now make children wait until the age of 10 to compete. She competes exclusively with vegan recipes, and Gravy Today! Named her a “Plant-Based Prodigy.”