Massillon resident turns bushels of
peppers into confetti
When her husband brought home bushels of peppers from Amish Country a few years ago, Massillon resident Valita Ross had no idea those peppers would grow into a business. Those peppers have been transformed into an all-natural, distinctive condiment called Confetti Peppers.
Confetti Peppers is a mix of banana and red bell peppers shredded like cole slaw that is seasoned with a special blend of herbs and spices and packed in canola oil. The peppers are for sale at many local stores, including Fishers and Bordner’s, and Ross hopes to begin distributing the product to different areas.
She began by experimenting to develop a recipe of shredded banana and red peppers that she canned and stocked her pantry shelves with.
“I began giving it to family and friends,” she said. “The response was overwhelming. They told me they used them on sandwiches, pizza, pasta dishes or ate them right out of the jar.”
Encouraged by family and friends to put her product on the market, Ross started a tough journey to find someone to produce and package it.
“It’s one thing to have a great recipe, it’s a completely different thing to get it on the market,” she said. “But I was committed once I decided to put it on the market.”
She faced challenges, including perfecting the recipe to ensure that the company could reproduce the product.
“I wanted to make sure it tasted like mine,” she said. “There have been slight changes to streamline the production.”
Ross is very proud of her product and knows that her mother, Sammie Gilmore, would be proud, too. Everything Ross knows about cooking, she said, she learned from her mother.
Her mother – who passed away in 1994 – was a cook in the cafeteria at Ecko Housewares and had always dreamed of marketing her own products, including her barbecue sauce.
“I continued the legacy,” Ross said as her eyes began to well with tears. “I feel she would be really be proud. She loved to cook and she taught me. (I) fulfilled the legacy. I can hear her voice saying things like, ‘Make sure it has good eye appeal,’ that’s why I added the red peppers.
“It makes me chuckle ... I mix it with my hands. She always did things with her hands. She would say (when I was young), ‘Just put your hands in it, stop being so prissy.”
Regina Iborra, Ross’ neighbor and taste-tester, said Confetti Peppers are so flavorful and healthy.
“It’s a party of flavor,” Ross said of the product. “The oil adds a dimension different from vinegar-based products. It’s very healthy and natural, there are no artificial flavorings. It’s that good kind of food mom would have canned years ago.”
Ross offers this advice to those trying to get a product off the ground: “First, you really have to be committed. You have to expect rejection. Don’t give up to easy. It’s not an easy process. Expect the unexpected.”
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