Spencer Grundhofer is the Willy Wonka of meat—he’s been crafting his Gummi Bear Brat at Grundhofer’s Old-Fashion Meats in Hugo since 2008, and it’s got even more longevity than an Everlasting Gobstopper. (Though Kramarczuk’s has made them, too, Grundhofer’s started the trend.) He may have created the brat as a joke, but business boomed when many people came in requesting the flavor—and it’s been a staple ever since. “It’s our number one seller,” says Grundhofer, who sells between 200 and 300 pounds of Gummi Bear Brats a week, and buys the little candies by the caseload.
It’s difficult to try the Gummi Bear Brat without a little trepidation: The gummies make bright splashes of color through the brat casing. They’re less visible upon grilling, and melt completely when heated, leaving tiny bear-shaped molds inside the sausage. A few bites in, and you’re not sure if you’re eating dinner or dessert. The saccharine candy contrasts sharply with the salty, beefy flavor of the brat, and at first, your mouth can’t make sense of what’s happening. But after the initial surprise, the pairing doesn’t seem so unnatural. “It matches the saltiness of the brat,” says Grundhofer. “It’s like a sweet pocket; either you love them or you hate them, and there’s not much in between.”
If the idea of bears in a brat is just not your thing, don’t worry. Grundhofer’s has a seemingly infinite variety of flavors, including brats that sound a little more tantalizing for the conventional grillmaster, such as Bacon Cheddar. Grundhofer’s own recommendations include the Bloody Mary, the Chili Cheese Jalapeño, and the Skittles Brat, which he says he likes even better than the Gummi Bear. Grundhofer’s also makes chicken and turkey brats, and specializes in processing wild game.
Grundhofer’s keeps churning out more new inventive flavors. They recently featured a Banana Cream Pie Brat at Minnesota Monthly’s 2014 GrillFest, and appeared on the KQRS BBQ Broadcast, where they debuted their new Caramel Apple Brat in preparation for fall. Also coming this autumn are the Pumpkin Pie and Candy Corn varieties, which might legitimately make you wonder, trick or treat?
Grundhofer’s Old-Fashion Meats, 15449 Forest Blvd. N, Hugo, MN, 651-426-2800, www.grundhofers.com