Wicked Good keeps it fresh and local
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Jonathan Hogan began applying for graduate programs and wondering how he would be able to pay for it.
With time on his hands, he began experimenting with making marmalades, jellies and jams in the kitchen of his Mission home. At one point his father weighed in that the marmalade was so good he felt wicked eating it. Thus Hogan’s company Wicked Good was born.
Today, almost five years later, the young entrepreneur oversees a growing business that specializes in using fresh produce to create a wide variety of naturally sweet products.
“I want to provide access to a better product than what you can get in the store,” Hogan said.
His marmalades and jams are made in small batches and sold primarily through farmer’s markets in McAllen, Pharr and Harlingen. They are also sold at the monthly Jackson Street Market Days in Harlingen. Customers may order over the phone and then pick it up at his house.
One key to Hogan’s success comes from his devotion to experimenting with fresh ingredients to develop unusual flavor profiles. These include Jamaican Banana Jam, Peach Habanero Jam and Mango Raspberry Jam.
He concentrates on bringing out both the natural flavors and sweetness of the fruits, which allows him to reduce the amount of added sugar. It’s a process Hogan developed early on when he wanted to create an orange marmalade for his mother, who is diabetic.
“There is some added sugar but it’s 60 percent less than the regular jams you find in the store,” he said.
Hogan employs a very hands-on approach to making his specialty products.
“All the fruit is hand cut, it’s not juiced,” Hogan said. “It’s peeled, it’s cut, it’s all done by hand. I have more control over it that way.”
Much of the produce comes from his own yard, where he grows a variety of citrus, bananas, figs, peppers, grapes, plums, peaches, pomegranate and more. He networks with local farmers to acquire fruits he does not grow. And at times he buys produce from outside the Valley when it is something that doesn’t grow in Deep South Texas.
“I try to do things you wouldn’t find any place else,” he said. One of his most recent creations is 1015 Onion Marmalade. In each jar, pieces of onion are clearly visible through the glass.
“The 1015 onions are in season and they are actually a sweet onion,” he said. “I use onions that are organically grown in Mission. I get them directly from the farmer.”
Wicked Good also has become known for Hogan’s gluten-free artisan breads and muffins made with kale and marmalade as sweeteners, citrus syrups and spicy pickles made from cucumbers that he grows.
On a typical Saturday Hogan is at work in his kitchen by 4 a.m.
Here, he is baking bread and getting ready for the 10 a.m. opening of the McAllen Farmer’s Market.
And he has found a use for that psychology degree to help with Wicked Good marketing.
“There’s a whole field of psychological study that concentrates on how to display and arrange products to make them more appealing to customers,” he said.
For now Wicked Good is a one-man operation and is Hogan’s sole source of income. But he realizes he will need to expand as the business continues to grow.
“At some point in time I am going to have to go with a commercial kitchen,” he said.
The transformation from home kitchen to commercial kitchen requires thought and planning. Hogan would face dealing with more regulation, hire employees and, of course, the expense.
His long-range plan is to make the transition. This could require an investment in the neighborhood of $50,000 within five years.
“At some point, yes, I am going to go commercial.”
More information on Wicked Good is available by calling 956.240.3791.