Olives with No Ferrous Gluconate

The Story Behind the Product; Chapter 6.

by Gary Cohen

We got into the olive business in the late 1990s, right after we started our company.

Jody and I were calling on the buyer at a Cooperative Distributor in Columbus, Ohio. She told us that the Coop brand was folding, and “carpe diem” – seize the moment – produce the same products they had supplied. So, we did.

One of the product lines they distributed was canned olives. I was never much of an olive fan while growing up in New York (pickles were more my thing). But kids sure like olives – they like to stick them on their fingers and eat them. Sounded like a good market to be in!

So, we approached the same people who were supplying olives to the Coop brand, and they took us on as a customer. We have been with the same producer now for over 20 years. At first, we duplicated their existing product line – and came out with olives that had ferrous gluconate.

“What’s ferrous gluconate?” I asked.

“Iron sulfate,” was the answer.

“Why do you put that in olives?” I asked.

“Because it makes black olives black,” was the reply.

Turns out they could make olives without ferrous gluconate that are still black. But they aren’t uniformly black. They are kind of grayish, blackish, somewhat spotted olives. This is how olives normally look after they are cured. Which is why ferrous gluconate is added – to make them all look the same.

We offer both kinds in our product line.

I actually like the taste of the no ferrous gluconate ones better. Maybe you will as well.

And they still fit on kids’ fingers!