Sausage seasoning mixes benefit adults with developmental disabilities

By Hilary Dartt

Spice’n Slice, a division of Yavapai Exceptional Industries (YEI!), manufactures seasoning mixes that quickly, easily turn plain meat into delicious sausages — but it’s so much more than that: Spice’n Slice serves a national customer base while serving local adults who have developmental disabilities.

“In 1978, Tom LaMure invented Spice’n Slice because everyone in the neighborhood loved his grandma’s sausages,” said Jon Ballard, product manager. “During all the neighborhood parties, it was a hit.”

LaMure sold Spice’n Slice to the Tempe Center for Rehabilitation, and Yavapai Exceptional Industries bought it in 2006. Since then, YEI! Executive Director Brad Newman said, “We’ve made it a national success.”

Ballard said a company in San Francisco grinds and blends the spices, and then sends the blends to a packaging company in Sacramento, where they’re put into packets. The people at YEI! then fold outer boxes and put the packets into the boxes for sale.

Spice’ n Slice is unique because:

• It’s quick and easy. Mix a packet of seasoning with water and a pound of meat, shape it into a roll, and bake it for 30 minutes. Ballard said, “It turns your kitchen into a deli in just one hour.”

• It’s a high-value meat extender. One pound of ground meat—beef, turkey, chicken, pork, or game meat like bison—becomes a pound and a half of sausage or pepperoni.

• It creates employment opportunities for the people at YEI!

Ballard said Spice’n Slice’s has a huge long-term customer base, filled with people who have been buying it since its inception. In fact, even the founder still buys from YEI! every year. YEI! has used the profits from Spice’n Slice to install new air conditioning and carpet, and to buy a forklift.

“We’ve used the profit margins to help out the production line, improve our buildings, and create more equity in our company,” Ballard said.

Spice’n Slice is available for purchase locally at YEI!, Prescott True Value Hardware, Antelope Point @ EastRidge in Prescott Valley, Cabela’s and online — retail or wholesale — at www.spiceandslice.com.

YEI! is a charitable organization founded in 1974 to support adults with disabilities living in the Central Highlands by providing them with job training, employment, volunteer placements, and support services. The “Developmental Employment” program at YEI! includes the award-winning “Community Contribution Corps” and has been continually accredited at the highest level of service by the National Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities since 1978.

Information provided by YEI!