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Frogs in a pickle . . . Karen Kouri Felps ’86 and James Felps ’10

Karen Kouri Felps ’86 and James Felps ’10 took an old pickle recipe and turned it into a growing side-business.

Frogs in a pickle . . . Karen Kouri Felps ’86 and James Felps ’10

Karen Kouri Felps ’86 and husband James Felps ’10 started In a Pickle Foods in 2010 after searching for a unique teacher gift.

Frogs in a pickle . . . Karen Kouri Felps ’86 and James Felps ’10

Karen Kouri Felps ’86 and James Felps ’10 took an old pickle recipe and turned it into a growing side-business.

In 1994, Karen Kouri Felps ’86 was in a pickle trying to come up with gift ideas, so the first-grade teacher starting spicing up an old family pickle recipe. She made about 18 jars and passed them out at school. By that evening, the phone was ringing from friends with empty jars begging for more of her pickle perfection.

“From there it just went,” she said. “Every year I made more and more.”

She was up to about 81 jars, still making them as gifts, when husband James Felps ’10 — a contractor by trade and entrepreneur by heart — said they needed to start a business.

After In a Pickle Foods’ popular Sweet & Spicy Pickle Chips debuted in 2010, Karen and James quickly got into a jam — Peach and Cinnamon to be exact. More small batch seasonal jams followed, like Sweet & Spicy Tomato, Apple Bourbon Cinnamon, Lemony Pear Vanilla Bean, Orangy Fig and Blueberry Lime. Spicy Satsuma Orange Lemon Marmalade and Tipsy Cranberry Orange are available this fall.

“Jam isn’t just for toast anymore,” Karen noted. “They’re really fun to cook with.”

Karen still teaches in Fort Worth and works on In a Pickle Foods after school, while James is In a Pickle full time. In their leased facility James built a commercial kitchen and finished out a warehouse in April 2012 — “just about the time everything took off,” Karen said.

Using fresh ingredients and sourcing locally when they can, the two foodies cook Monday through Thursday and deliver on Fridays. Their plucky pickles and jams can be found online (inapicklefoods.com) and at specialty retailers in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

They also frequent local farmers markets, holiday shows and retail shows.

But don’t look for them at big box retailers. They enjoy the rapport with small business owners and farmers market customers too much.

“I love having relationships with my customers and always meeting new people,” Karen said.