‘The salsa guy:’ After Midnight Salsa Co. opening in Helena

Published 4:08 pm Thursday, July 21, 2016

Helena resident Jimmy Brogden, left, started the After Midnight Salsa Co. four years ago. The company will begin selling salsa out of the Coosa Mart gas station in Helena beginning July 25. (Reporter Photo/Keith McCoy)

Helena resident Jimmy Brogden, left, started the After Midnight Salsa Co. four years ago. The company will begin selling salsa out of the Coosa Mart gas station in Helena beginning July 25. (Reporter Photo/Keith McCoy)

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–When Helena resident Jimmy Brogden opened his refrigerator four years ago and began mixing salsa early one morning after a night out, little did he know that his creation would turn into a full-time job.

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“I had gone out having a few drinks and dancing late at night and we came back and I didn’t have much to eat so I made the salsa,” said Brogden. “We ate a couple of pints and when I first started I made four mason jars. I gave a friend a pint and the next morning she put it on her eggs and said it was fabulous and wanted the recipe. I was going to show her how to make it but she said ‘Well I don’t know because you don’t start making it until after midnight,’ and that’s how I got the name.”

Brogden graduated from Western Carolina with a degree in manufacturing engineering and after working 16-17 years in manufacturing, Brogden claims he now “manufactures salsa.”

Brogden said that after he brought some salsa to lunch during his time working at AT&T in Birmingham, that’s when he realized he could do something with the recipe.

“We had a potluck lunch at work and that’s where it really kind of took off,” said Brogden. “I took some and the women went crazy about it and started buying it at 20, 30, 40 pints a week and then someone says ‘You ought to try to do something with this’ and that’s when we went to Pepper Place. I quit my corporate job two and a half years ago and all I do is sell salsa, it’s really kind of crazy that I get to do this. It’s kind of like my grown-man lemonade stand and that’s what I tell people.”

Fast forward four years to 2016, and Brogden is now the owner of After Midnight Salsa Co., and currently sells his fresh, raw salsa at The Market at Pepper Place in downtown Birmingham, five Birmingham area Piggly Wiggly Supermarkets and beginning July 25, will sell his salsa out of The Coosa Mart gas station in Helena.

The original salsa recipe, which has resulted in a Birmingham’s Best Award two years in a row, is the medium/hot variety dubbed Fire in the Hole, but now After Midnight Salsa Co. offers four additional flavors including the mild flavor known as Sissy, which got its name from Brogden’s close friend who said she’s a sissy when it comes to heat, Lava Joe, which derives from Brogden’s friend Joe who is the only one who could eat the salsa as hot as Brogden could make it, as well as black bean corn and pineapple.

When it comes to the salsa’s actual ingredients, Brogden doesn’t deny that it is more expensive than some of the other salsa brands on the shelves, but customers can taste the difference in the ingredients that are weighed to the ounce and locally sourced.

“We’re preservative free, gluten free, no fat, low sodium and 160 calories in an entire jar. What you eat it with is where the calories will come from,” said Brogden. “The product hasn’t been canned. It’s fresh, raw salsa and hasn’t been cooked so all the nutritional value is still in it. I tell people I know we’re not the least expensive but give us a try at least one time.”

Brogden has resided in Helena since 2009 after moving from Greensboro, N.C., and is excited about making his salsa available to locals.

“The reason that I came to Helena was because I have some customers at Pepper Place that come and say ‘Man we wish you were closer, we live in Helena or Alabaster or Shelby County or wherever else and we wish you were closer because we can’t always make it to Pepper Place,’” said Brogden. “It was a win for everybody since I opened up production and for everybody to come into the store in Helena.”

A cooler dedicated to After Midnight Salsa Co. will be located inside the Coosa Mart in Helena and Brogden said that is also where the production of the salsa will take place.

As for future goals for the business, Brogden said he does have aspirations to move into more stores but he ultimately enjoys where he’s at and interacting with customers each Saturday at Pepper Place.

“I really enjoy what I’m doing, it’s kind of like I’m retired,” said Brogden. “I work part-time and make more than full-time money and I just kind of do what I want to do and it’s unbelievable that I’m able to do this. I’m trying to make Campbell’s mad to where they write me a check with a bunch of zeroes on it.”

After Midnight Salsa flavors are available in pint and half-pint sizes and Brogden suggests using white corn chips with the salsa.

Customers can purchase the salsa from the Coosa Mart gas station in Helena located at 1919 Shelby County 58, beginning July 25.

For more information on After Midnight Salsa Co., visit Facebook.com/After-Midnight-Salsa-Co-244597092286698/?fref=ts.