In 2012, Rob and Evelyn Dixon wanted their Christmas gifts to have a personal touch.
The Huntersville couple decided to bottle a spice mix made from a decades-old recipe in Evelyn’s family. The gifts were a hit.
“They started telling us, ‘You should be selling this stuff,’” Rob Dixon, 55, says.
The Dixons agreed. Two-and-a-half years later, Rob Dixon has produced more than 1,400 bottles of Dixon Farm Flavorings, a mixture of salt, chili powder, mustard seed, cayenne pepper and other spices, which is now available in a dozen stores and online at Dixonfarmflavorings.com.
“We tweaked the recipe,” Dixon says. “But it’s still pretty much the same one-blend-does-it-all spice I first tasted at the dinner table with Evelyn and her parents at their home in Tennessee 35 years ago.”
The Dixon Farm Flavorings name is a nod to the past, and to the faith that Dixon says guides him and his family. Dixon, a vocational coordinator with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, grew up on a farm at the southern edge of Huntersville.
Interstate 485 has carved up much of the old property, and most of the buildings were razed, including a bright red barn. An image of that barn is now the centerpiece of Dixon Farm Flavorings’ label.
That label also includes a spice-themed Bible verse from Colossians 4:6: “Let your conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
While the seasoning is now available in stores from Pineville to Oakboro, Dixon’s goal is to get a place on the shelves of a major grocery chain. He says he had such a deal lined up several months ago, but the company balked at the Bible verse.
“They told us that they’d sell our product if we took the verse off the label,” Dixon says. “I told them that was nonnegotiable.”
Dixon typically works two nights a week mixing and bottling the spices at a commercial kitchen in Davidson, then sets up shop on weekends – often with Evelyn, 49, at his side – at outdoor markets or festivals. Dixon’s parents, Robert and Beryl Dixon, are also weekend regulars at the Dixon Farm Flavorings table.
“My senior sales team,” Dixon says with a laugh.
By the book
Inspired by the response to Dixon Farm Flavorings, the Dixons wondered how they might use the growing reach of their product to help others.
Their answer was the 2015 Dixon Farm Flavorings Cookbook, an 82-page collection of contributed recipes, each dedicated to the memory of a contributor’s loved one. The books sell for $10, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to charities.
“I was able to get the printing donated,” Dixon says. “So we just give groups the books, they sell them and they keep the money. It’s just our way to give back to a community that has blessed us in so many ways.”
The first benefactor of the cookbook was Angels of ’97, the scholarship program created in honor of several North Mecklenburg High School students who died in car crashes 1997. The prayer shawl ministry at Independence Hill Baptist Church is now selling the books. A dozen more nonprofits, including Angels and Sparrows Soup Kitchen and Hope House in Huntersville, are in line to sell the books this year.
And it all started with some homemade Christmas gifts.
“We had no way of knowing our little project would turn into a small business opportunity,” Dixon says. “But having a symbol of the history of our family property and the way we promote our values, the decision to sell it was easy.”
John Deem is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for John? Email him at email@example.com.