If you love tailgating at Husker football games, you may have met Captain Todd Morgan, or “Captain Morgan” as he likes to joke. A firefighter for the Grand Island Fire Department for almost 29 years, Todd has been tailgating and sharing his locally famous Sparky’s Wing & Dippin’ Sauce with fans for years.
Sparky’s adds a jolt of flavor
So what makes Sparky’s Wing & Dippin’ Sauce different from its competitors?
“It doesn’t have the overpowering vinegar flavor typical of a dipping sauce,” Todd said. “It has a very unique flavor.”
Your first taste of Sparky’s starts out with a little heat and then turns just a tad bit sweet.
Sparky’s original sauce is more of a mild to medium heat, and the “Fire” version is a highly seasoned sauce featuring chunks of garlic, crushed red peppers, and habanero flakes.
Sparky’s is often used as a dipping sauce for chicken, beef, and pork, but it’s also delicious when used as a marinade for meat and shrimp. Add it to eggs, meatloaf, veggies, baked beans, sandwiches, pizza, and more to spice up a meal.
The sauce thickens as it cooks and caramelizes well, making it a favorite to cook with. It’s good on baked, broiled, fried, and grilled food, making it a versatile sauce to have on hand. And you can rest easy eating it knowing Sparky’s has no MSG, is gluten free, and does not contain high fructose corn syrup.
A shocking story
Todd’s background in the restaurant business and passion for tailgating collided with his firefighting career when he was accidentally defibrillated on the job. Gaining the nickname “Sparky,” Todd embraced the new name with vigor … and vinegar. He created Sparky’s Wing & Dippin’ Sauce at his kitchen stove, and after giving away 160 dozen wings with Sparky’s sauce at the next six Nebraska football games, he realized he was onto something — Husker fans were quickly becoming Sparky’s fans.
“We’re very thankful for the support Husker fans have given us throughout the years,” Todd said. “They have pushed us forward all over the country.”
When it came time to determine the future of Sparky’s sauce as a business, Todd’s wife Fae said, “Let’s dabble in it.”
And dabble they did, if you call 100-plus hour work weeks dabbling. “We learned there was no such thing as dabbling,” Todd said with a grin.
A corporation was born, and Sparky’s is represented with a custom-designed logo showcasing a firefighter’s maltese cross featuring No. 62, his emergency medical service badge number.
Todd and Fae’s dabbling has landed Sparky’s in over 30 states and more than 600 grocery stores and restaurants to date. You can find Sparky’s being served in Firehouse Subs across Nebraska, Brewsky’s in Lincoln, Cunningham’s in Kearney, Union Sports Bar and Pizzeria in Omaha, and many other places too numerous to list.
Named the best wing sauce in the world
If you are already a Sparky’s fan, you’re not alone. It was named the number one mild-medium wing sauce in the world in 2015 and 2016. Omaha’s Lighthouse Pizza “Sparky’s Slice” was named one of the top 50 pizzas in the U.S. by Food Network.
And just how would the creator of Sparky’s Wing & Dippin’ Sauce prefer to eat it?
“I love a dozen baked and broiled crispy wings doused with Sparky’s!” Todd said. “Bake the wings, douse them with Sparky’s, put them back in the broiler until the sauce is thick as molasses.”
Another popular recipe mixes a blend of half Sparky’s and half Dorothy Lynch. “We have a lot of customers who love that recipe,” Todd said.
Rural Foodies’ taste test
As Rural Foodies, we had to try Sparky’s wings to see what the buzz was about. So we ordered a bottle and tried it out with help from a friend.
“I admit that my experience with buffalo wings and dipping sauce is seeing Super Bowl ads,” said Rural Foodie Betty Sayers.”Somehow I missed the joy that accompanies this delicacy, and when the bottles of Sparky’s Wing & Dippin’ Sauce arrived, I didn’t have a clue how to incorporate this acclaimed sauce into a menu or appetizer.”
Betty asked for the assistance of her friend and Master of Savory, Chef Lisa Zinnecker. That was it. She caught the spirit of the wings crowd and now shares their enthusiasm for Sparky’s Wing & Dippin’ Sauce.
See Lisa’s recipes below for a pizza bake and an appetizer that pleases everyone. Both recipes are simple to make and take. Enjoy!
For additional recipes or more information, check out Sparky’s website at http://www.sparkyswingsauce.com/.