Beavercreek veteran develops sauce business as tribute to grandfather

Mutt’s Sauce is available on local store shelves

A family legacy of service has inspired Beavercreek resident Charlynda Scales for most of her life.

Raised by her grandparents in Tennessee, Scales learned about military life from her grandfather, Charlie Ferrell Jr., who joined the Air Force at the age of 18 in 1951 and served until 1972.

“My family has served in every military branch except the Coast Guard,” Scales said.

Scales decided to go to Clemson University on an Air Force ROTC scholarship to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps. There, she earned a degree in business management and aerospace science.

“My grandfather developed cancer before I went to college,” Scales said. “But he was the first person to salute me when I went on active duty.”

Besides his military career as an aircraft mechanic, Ferrell was known in his family for something else – he made a multi-purpose sauce from a “secret” family recipe originally developed in 1956. Annoyed by American condiments in general because he thought there were too many types, he designed his multi-purpose tomato-based sauce to complement almost all foods.

When Ferrell died in 2005, Scales wondered what happened to her grandfather’s “secret” recipe.

“I really thought the recipe was gone,” Scales said. “I asked my mother about it and she said my grandfather didn’t want to give it to me while any of his children were still alive.”

Credit: Tammy L. Brown

Credit: Tammy L. Brown

Scales ended up with the only copy of the recipe, written in her grandfather’s handwriting. She had no idea what to do with it.

“I thought I was fulfilling our family legacy of service in the Air Force,” Scales said.

But she quickly realized there are other ways to be of service. She moved to Dayton in 2011 and sought mentorship through Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to learn about starting a business. She also researched other local groups that might help her, though initially she wasn’t thinking the sauce would be the basis of a full-fledged business.

“I was really hoping to find someone who could teach me how to make a few batches of the product to share with friends and family,” Scales said. “It almost brought us all to tears when we tasted the sauce again and the memories came flooding back.”

Credit: Tammy L. Brown

Credit: Tammy L. Brown

It was that feeling of nostalgia that inspired Scales to begin to think bigger. Her mentor gave her a checklist of tasks to complete to launch what would eventually become her company.

And in December of 2013, she was ready for her first product launch event.

“I had family members help me make my first batches of sauce and bottle it,” Scales said.

Thinking bigger, though, would require a much larger scale operation and Scales knew her full-time military career wouldn’t allow much time to devote to the newly named “Mutt’s Sauce,” (after her grandfather’s military call sign.) Her mentor encouraged her to research co-packaging contract manufacturing to outsource production and to still enable her to maintain the secrecy of her family recipe.

Credit: Tammy L. Brown

Credit: Tammy L. Brown

Mutt’s Sauce soon began to appear on local store shelves, including Dot’s Market in Bellbrook and Kroger stores. Today, shoppers can find multiple versions of the sauce at Jungle Jim’s locations as well. The four flavors – original, sweet and spicy, ghost pepper and gluten free original, can also be purchased on the website, along with special edition sauces and three new spices to add to the sauces.

“People use the sauce for French dressing replacement, to make Bloody Mary cocktails and in crock pot recipes,” Scales said. “Moms love it because when kids put it on their food, they eat it all!”

In 2019 after tornados devastated Dayton, Scales donated a portion of her limited-edition bourbon-based sauce to help people who lost their homes. Today she partners with several national military charities and local organizations like Dayton Children’s.

Scales, who served in the Air Force for 11 years and is now working as a government contractor, is hoping to turn her company into a way to support her family, which now includes her son and both her parents, full time.

“I’m starting a campaign with Kroger to highlight minority-owned businesses,” Scales said. “The pandemic has affected our ability to do any store demos, so we have had to be creative.”

Scales said she wants to be part of the solution to help local small businesses and restaurants struggling to stay afloat in the current economy by partnering with local investors and advisors on opening a 6,000 square foot commercial kitchen in the newly refurbished Arcade downtown to help create jobs and encourage other entrepreneurs and hopeful restauranteurs.

“This business is my love letter to my grandfather,” Scales said. “My goal is to put Mutt’s Sauce on the shelves of every grocery store.”

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