Thriving pepper jelly business keeps a local family close

For Howard Magazine
Suzanne Glover Sr. may not be with them anymore, but her pepper jelly recipe keeps her family close.

Suzanne Glover Sr. is the glue — or maybe, in this case, the jelly — that keeps her family together, even seven years after her death.

She, husband Earl Glover, and their four children — Stephanie, Philip, Cheri and Suzanne — moved to Columbia from Seattle when Earl took a job with the residential management division of The Rouse Co.. The siblings stayed close through the years, reuniting at weekly potlucks and working together at the real estate businesses their father went on to found.

Suzanne Sr. was “the mom everyone wishes they had,” Philip says, and “the grandmother all the grandkids loved,” Suzanne adds.

After Suzanne Sr. died in 2008, youngest daughter and namesake Suzanne came up with new way, in her honor, to maintain family ties. Five years ago, she started Suzanne’s Kitchen, producing her mother’s signature pepper jelly, now called Pepper Jelly Heaven. Increasingly hotter versions — Purgatory, Hell and Ghost — have also been developed and approved by family at tasting sessions.

The company is staffed entirely by family. Graphic designer Cheri Glover handles website design, labeling and print marketing. Stephanie Glover serves as sales manager and, accompanied by granddaughter Lyra Cauley, 12, does marketing demonstrations at retailers. Philip handles finances, and Suzanne Jr. stays busy with recipe development. (Most recently, she’s been working on a salad dressing). Philip’s wife, also named Stephanie, takes on phone work and assists with daily management.

Suzanne’s Kitchen pepper jellies, now award-winners, can be found in 800 stores, mostly east of the Mississippi, including Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, Roots Market and River Hill Garden Center. They’re on the menu at Ranazul, a tapas restaurant in Fulton, and on Amazon, too.

The family attributes the pepper jelly’s popularity to a number of factors, ranging from its packaging and consistency to its intensely hot flavor. But they agree Suzanne Jr. was the driving force behind it.

“Without Suzanne, none of this would have happened,” says Stephanie of her sister’s entrepreneurial spirit. “She’s the motivator.”

Although the family moved every 18 months when Earl Glover was a Boeing contract administrator, home is here. Most of the family’s three generations — and a few in the fourth — still live nearby. Earl says he’d like to move back to his native Arizona but “I can’t leave all these kids!” 

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