Change comes in many forms. We can protest, we can vote, we can call out our racist relatives in the middle of holiday meals, and we can consciously use our dollars to support BIPOC businesses. Because it’s easy to say you want to be part of fixing the racial wealth and equity gaps but it’s another thing to be that change by seeking out Black-owned businesses. Especially when mega-corporations are ready to prey on our desire for convenience and will have their house brand hot sauce dropped via drone 45 minutes after you click.
So let’s make a collective resolution. 2022 is the year we’re going to make real effort to shop ethically and in line with our values. Not as a short-term fix but as part of a bigger, more inclusive mindset. Or, as Indy Officinalis wrote in her essay to kick this series off, “I hope that supporting Black-owned businesses won’t be thought of as a trend born of guilt or even a temporary solution to a centuries-long problem, but rather a continued celebration of the Black community.”
In that spirit, here are some of our favorite Black-owned food brands to support now and into 2022. You’ll be glad you did when you taste these flavor-rich gems!
Named after Nashville-based baker Ashley Bouknight’s grandmother and uncle, LilaLue Sweets are based on old family recipes and infused with whiskey to honor her grandmother’s legacy. Born in rural South Carolina in 1917, Lila worked as a cook at the University of South Carolina during the week, and on the weekend, sold baked goods and moonshine whiskey to support her family. You can order Bouknight’s insanely delicious baked goods — like Harvest Spice Cake and Whiskey snickerdoodles (made with premium, small-batch whiskey) — and pretend you, too, are as cool as her grandmother (just remember you’re not though — cause she’s verrrrrry cool).
Shaquanda Will Feed You
A Black and queer-owned brand, Shaquanda’s hot pepper sauce was developed as part of a performance by creator Andre’s drag alter ego Shaquanda CoCa Mulatta. And people loved the spicy sauce, made with fresh ingredients, so much during the show — that a business was born. Now, there are several different flavors of Shaquanda’s Harlem-made hot sauce that you can order. So do it and be, as Andre says, the queen of your kitchen.
The Parker House Sausage Company
Parker House Sausage started in 1919 when Judge H. Parker came from Tennessee up to Chicago to sell sausages using his mother’s recipe door to door. The business may have started off small but it grew to become the first African-American-owned and operated meat processing plant in the midwest. And it’s still Black and family-owned — making Parker House one of the oldest Black-owned businesses in Chicago.
That’s amazing by itself. But there’s a reason this brand has thrived for so long. The hot links — which are incredible.
Started in Brooklyn by Miriam Milord, BCakeNy does incredible custom cakes (and other baked goods) that are truly works of art. They can basically turn anything into a gorgeous million-dollar-looking cake, and as such, have a robust celebrity clientele that includes Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Cardi B. But even if you’re not rich and famous (but also, why aren’t you? Get on that.), you can buy their yummy cake jars, cookies, and a couple of stunning signature cakes shipped right to you.
Essie Bartels fell in love with spice while watching her mother cook in her kitchen in Ghana and has since traveled the world coming up with concoctions that blend West-African cooking with flavors from all over the globe. Her signature sauces and spices at EssieSpice are mind-blowingly good (try the coco-for-garlic!) and are sold on her website.
Zach & Zoe Sweet Bee Farm Honey
This New Jersey-based honey brand is a family business — started by Summer and Kam Johnson when they were looking for natural remedies for their son who was suffering from severe allergies. In their quest, they found honey helped him a great deal. Then they fell in love with bee-keeping themselves — producing their own brand of pure, raw honey without pesticides or additives. The result is wonderfully delectable honey with flavors like lavender, pumpkin spice, and blueberry.
Zach and Zoe honey is so good that last year they landed on Oprah’s list of favorite things. So you better go get some. You know what Oprah does if she shows up on Christmas morn and you haven’t gotten all the favorite things. She won’t be pleased with you.
Phillip Ashley Chocolates
Called the real-life Willy Wonka, Phillip Ashley Rix is known for his gorgeous and highly imaginative chocolate designs (and not for luring children into his factory to turn them into blueberries…we think…). These candies are art meets chocolate and the Memphis-based Phillip Ashley Chocolates are as delicious as they are beautiful. Plus, these have been served at the Emmy’s, Oscar’s, AND Grammy’s — so look, this might be your best and only chance to EGOT and we think you should take it.
EXAU Olive oil
This absolutely perfect olive oil was founded by husband and wife team Skyler Mapes and Giuseppe Morisani when Giuseppe, who is a 3rd generation Calabrian olive oil producer, came to the U.S. and was shocked to see that Calabrian olive oil, while a huge part of the olive oil industry in Italy, was really hard to find in the U.S. Mapes saw a gap in the market (and also fell in love with the taste and intricacies of olive oil production) which led to the founding of Exau. A company bringing the good word of Calabrian olive oil to the people. So far, they’ve been wildly successful. And Mapes, as one of the few women of color in the industry, is busting open a few doors in the process.
This fluffy, vegan pancake mix company was created in 2019 by Christian Sargent based on her mother’s recipe. People can’t stop raving about how it creates the perfect pancake and we agree — it’s absolutely delicious (and we’re pancake lovers!). You can find Vicky Cakes’ mix in some grocery stores, but they also offer it online. And if you can find it, snap it up — they sell out quickly!
This artisanal barbecue sauce company by wedding dress designer turned barbecue sauce master, Aubrey Lenyard, started like many great food stories do. With a family-instilled love of cooking and a sauce that people kept telling him he just had to try to sell. So he started with a Kickstarter campaign and now has an award-winning small-batch bbq sauce, AubSauce, that includes innovative flavors like Spicy Peach, Strawberry Balsamic, and Rosemary. It’s a must-try for those who want to up their food game.