When Reggie Rodgers was growing up on a small farm in Holly Springs, Mississippi, his mother’s banana pudding was a popular staple, gracing the tables of Sunday suppers, family cookouts and community functions.
“It was expected that Mom would have her banana pudding at all get-togethers, and those gatherings are moments I’ve always associated with abundance and close family ties,” Rodgers recalls. “If her banana pudding wasn’t on the table, we’d have people go hunting through the cupboards searching for it. When I was really young, I’d make sure I was always around when Mom was preparing it so I could lick the spoon and get every last bit that was sticking to the sides of the bowl.”
When Rodgers joined the Navy and was stationed on the West Coast, memories of his mom’s home cooking sent him on a fruitless search for local sources of made-from-scratch banana pudding. Tired of not finding a version that met his expectations, he mastered his mom’s original recipe, and became known throughout his many duty stations as the “Banana Pudding Man” where he was expected to bring the cool and creamy dessert to every function.
Fast forward to 2008 when Rodgers’ youngest daughter suggested that he start a banana pudding business. But because bananas turn brown, and cookies get soggy, the family decided to bottle only the filling so people could build their own custom desserts around it. From their commercial kitchen in Chesapeake’s South Norfolk neighborhood, Rodgers and his wife Martha perfected the vanilla filling recipe to ensure that the product was commercially viable and ready for prime time.
They added additional flavors like chocolate and coconut, and the husband-wife team successfully shepherded their creations through Whole Food’s rigorous, barrier-filled supplier acquisition process. Currently, you can find Rodgers’ Puddings at Whole Food’s Newport News, Virginia Beach, Short Pump and West Broad locations.
Made with organic milk, the puddings and fillings make creating quick and easy desserts a snap. Try topping grilled slices of fresh pineapple with the coconut version, drizzle with honey, and top it all off with toasted slivered almonds and mint leaves. Use the chocolate pudding to conjure up ramekins of luxurious and melty lava cake, or layer the puddings with fruits and granola for a colorful parfait that kids will love. Of course, you could just use the vanilla filling as the Universe intended: as a cool and creamy platform for classic banana pudding.
“We’ve been married for 45 years,” Martha Rodgers shares. “We stand on the shoulders of all those who came before us and who supported us on our entrepreneurial journey. We’re so happy that our products carry forward a family legacy.”
Learn more at RodgersPuddings.com.