VIROQUA - The local fermented food favorite, Fizzeology Foods, started up operations with new ownership this month.
Fizzeology Foods was purchased by Rob and Shawna Andolsek of the Viroqua area.
Although the pair have no previous experience in food production, the idea of taking on a popular local business was inviting.
Rob found out about Fizzeology going up for sale through the local Inventors and Entrepreneurs group that meets in Viroqua.
Exploring the option more, the pair found out that they had long been fans of the product without even realizing it.
“We had been eating it and enjoying it for a while on sandwiches at Wonderstate Coffee and The Viroqua Food Co-op, but we didn’t realize it was made right here in town,” Shawna shared.
“We saw it as a good business opportunity with an established customer base,” Rob explained. “We were looking for something different, something that we could share with our daughters who are starting to do babysitting and will be wanting to work soon. It’s a good opportunity for them, and they’ll be able to learn the business.”
Rob currently works at S&S Cycle and area residents may have seen Shawna at the emergency room at Vernon Memorial Healthcare, where she works as a registered nurse. The pair are currently working around their full time schedules. The two seem to pack hours in just like they were packing jars on Thursday afternoon.
In addition to Rob and Shawna, and their daughters, the pair also works with Employment Partners, a program owned and operated by Daniel Chotzen. Employment Partners helps to provide job coaching to members of the community who are having a hard time finding meaningful employment.
“The crew comes in and they’ve been working here for years so it’s a big help,” noted Rob. “They do all of our vegetable prep, coming in during the evenings to shred cabbage and cut up vegetables for us. They helped us do 640 pounds of Kimchi last night.”
Although offerings have varied throughout the years, the new owners will still be producing the core products of Kickapoo Kimchi, Kickapoo Curtido, German Style Sauerkraut and Naked Kraut. This is in addition to the Ginger Carrots and Fermented Hot Sauce.
As time goes on, the pair hopes to add more to their offerings, but for now they’re focused primarily on refining their kitchen techniques.
“Working in product development and engineering at S&S, I’m always thinking about ways to make things work more smoothly and how I can perfect our methods, even down to how many steps it takes to get from here to there. We want to make sure we’re using our time the best way we can to be able to keep inventory on the shelves,” Rob explained.
He noted that he’s taken more than one call about the recipes, and reassured Fizzeology fans there are no plans to change them at this time.
The couple is also excited to be able to continue the long-honed partnerships with area farmers. Rob explained that all of the cabbage comes from local Amish farmers. They are able to purchase ‘seconds’ ‘ for the cabbages as well. Although some may be a little too big, or a little too small, or a funny shape for a store shelf, they’re still just as delicious as a pretty one. He explained that using them up in the products created in the Fizzeology kitchen helps to keep them out of the stream of food waste.
In fact, nearly all of the products found in the Fizzology blends are cultivated locally, even things like Burdock Root, which is in the popular Kimchi ferment.
The lacto-fermentation process that is the key to Fizzeology is a simple, age-old process, that has been used to produce and preserve food for thousands of years.
According to healthline.com:
“By overgrowing a food with a specific type of good bacteria, harmful organisms are unable to reproduce and grow, preventing food spoilage. The acidic, low oxygen environment and addition of salt helps foster a habitat that’s friendly to good bacteria and hostile to potentially harmful organisms like fungi and molds.”
Another good benefit that healthline.com points out of fermented foods is that they “contain and even increase the quantity of many nutrients and healthy compounds.”
It has also been widely supported that fermented foods like sauerkraut, are rich sources of living bacteria. And these bacteria may contribute to health in a manner similar to probiotics. A product attribute both Rob and Shawna have heard long-standing Fizzeology customers comment on when they discuss their love of the product.Fizzeology Food lovers can continue to find their favorite products at all of the places it was previously purchased. Including the Kickapoo Exchange Natural Foods Coop, Viroqua Foods Coop, Willy Street Coop and more. However as time goes on, both Rob and Shawna hope that they will be able to expand into smaller grocery stores across the state and beyond, so that more people can enjoy the benefits and taste of the full line of Fizzeology Foods ferments.