A Retired Gunny And His Military-Inspired Salsa Empire


When Gunnery Sgt. David Smith retired from the United States Marine Corps, he and his father decided it was time to create a salsa that was better tasting than the salsa you would typically find on store shelves.  After serving in the Marine Corps as a cook, David had plenty of experience in the kitchen and had even been working on his own recipe for a better salsa for a few years.

jarhead003Jar Head salsa was unleashed on the world at farmers markets in Michigan and quickly gained a following.  While the salsa seems simple enough, and only contains eight different vegetables, citrus juices and spices, the proportions are a closely held secret. The label of the salsa even mentions that they use a secret recipe and “If we told you we’d have to shoot you”.

More than 1,000 gallons of Jar Head Salsa are made each week in the kitchen of VFW Post 822 in Flint, Michigan.  That is a huge increase from the 40 pints they were making each week about six years ago.  10% of the proceeds are donated right back to the VFW and so far, they have been able to donate more than $35,000 back to the post.  “No matter how big we get, 10% of the sales will always be donated back to the VFW” said David’s father and co-founder, Tom Smith.

While Jar Head Salsa is still a staple at farmer’s markets in Michigan, they can now also be found in 32 different outlets including specialty stores and some Kroger’s stores.  They also offer a wider range of products such as several styles of Jar Head tortilla chips, Jar Head Blood Stripe Bloody Mary Mix, and Jar Head KAeso Dio.  It is rumored that they are even finalizing the recipe for their own take on Thousand Island salad dressing and will be calling it “Parris Island Salad Dressing”.


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