Published August 22 2013
Minnesota family "mad" about pickles
“We had to have an advertising tool,” Ken Heide said of the 1953 Chevrolet pickup with the roof cut off.
Heide owns and operates Hawley-based MadGab Pickles with his daughters, Madison, 12, and Gabrielle, 10. He called the homegrown operation “a hobby that’s turning into more of a business.”
The product takes its name from the first syllable of each daughter’s names. An artist’s rendering of the girls graces jar labels and the side of their truck.
The Heides have sold their pickles through a number of avenues, and they’re working to get their product into supermarkets. Some of the product moves through the girls’ marketing efforts at the Detroit Lakes schools they attend.
“It’s like a lion and meat. They just keep wanting more,” Madison said.
The Heides are enthusiastic.
“I think they taste amazing,” Madison said.
Ken Heide traces MadGab Pickles’ roots back to a few years ago.
“My sister and I would do up a few jars for the family and at family functions,” he said. “We always had competitions: whose tasted better, who had the better-flavored pickle.”
“A little family competition never hurt,” he said. “And then it took off from there.”
Madison and Gabrielle were taste-testers for developing the recipe they use. They must have done a pretty good job. They won a blue ribbon at this year’s Red River Valley Fair for each of their four kinds of pickles: dill, kosher, spicy and garlic.
“I was like, ‘Wow,’ ” Gabrielle said. “I thought it was awesome.”
Ken Heide sees the venture as a way to teach his daughters about work and business, and to provide for them in the future. He wants them to have fun, too.
“They’ll gain a lot more by working in it and understanding it than they will in any textbook,” he said.
Heide wants to see the business grow.
“I would love to see this thing take off,” he said. “I’ve always been a pickle fan. … For me, it’s fun. I enjoy it. And if we can get this thing to continually grow and grow and grow, I’d be all for it.”
Gabrielle doesn’t argue with that.
“I dream that it would be, like, the biggest pickle company in, like, America,” she said. “I really think we’re going far. I really think that we’re going to get it there or at least be, like, second. First or second. I don’t want to be third or anything.”
Only time will tell if the Heides become pickle tycoons, but they certainly seem to be having a good time.
“It’s been fun,” Ken Heide said. “Never envisioned this taking off like it has.”
Those interested in purchasing MadGab pickles can contact the Heides at madgabpickles.com.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734