Contrary to its name, Grundhofer’s Old Fashioned Meats carries a rather interesting and unique range of sausage meats. Their website boasts of 50 different flavors of fresh brats, including a few regulars – Turkey, Chicken and Three Cheese – and a few strange ones – Bloody Mary, Cherry Kool-aid and Blueberry. But the world-famous Gummy Bear brat has got to be their funkiest one yet.
Spencer Grundhofer, who founded the business in 1983 in his hometown of Hugo, Minnesota, says his love for meat developed quite early. “I started when I was 11, working at a local grocery store down the road.” Spencer quickly gained a reputation in the region as an expert in high-quality cuts of meat.
And his passion for meat took a weird turn a few years ago, when his friend decided to play a prank on him. Joe Berglund, a mechanic who works at the shop across from Grundhofer’s, gave Spencer a few friendly suggestions of what flavor brats to try. “So I gave him a list,” said Joe. “One of them happened to be Gummy brats. And he told me, ‘I’m not making those.’”
Photo: Minnesota Monthly
When Spencer refused to implement the idea, Joe sent many of his customers over, asking for the Gummy bear brat. “Once a week, I got a nasty phone call from him, saying, ‘Quit sending people over asking for those. I’m not gonna make ‘em!’” said Joe. But Spencer finally did make them – six months later, when he was tired of Joe’s incessant pranking.
Spencer turned up at Joe’s shop with a handful of Gummy Bear brats. “I said you know what, I made ‘em, you eat ‘em,” he explained. And surprisingly, Joe did just that. He took them home, cooked them, and they turned out to be great! He liked them so much that Spencer was forced to put Gummy Bear brats permanently on the menu.
Photo: Rachel Hutton
“It’s still weird,” he admits. “To put ‘em in the meat and you see all these gummy bears. Everybody is so intrigued, they have to try ‘em. They’re kinda sweet and sour.” I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be a good thing, or if anyone ever buys these sausages more than once. But it does appeal to a much younger audience. As a little girl who visited the shop pointed out: “I like anything with Gummy Bears in it.”
Spencer believes that he’s created the world’s first Gummy Bear brats. “I think I even Googled Gummy Bear brat – nothing came up,” he said. “It would be nice to be known for, you know, the original Gummy Bear brat, which I think we are.” Spencer also accepts suggestions for new flavors and even offers a $25 prize and some free brats to anyone who comes up with an idea he likes.