Candy corn bratwurst? This Illinois butcher regularly sells out

Illinois

MILLSTADT, Ill. – Millstadt, Illinois, a town rooted in German heritage, has merged Halloween candy and traditional German food, and there is a huge demand.

Schubert’s Smokehouse and Meat Packing Co. has been making Halloween-inspired bratwursts for six years. They started with gummy bear-infused bratwursts. They then added candy corn-infused bratwursts to their menu approximately three years ago.

Schubert’s has been in business for over 43 years. Owner David Kossina took over the establishment 6.5 years ago after he worked there for 5.

The gummy bear brats started years before Kossina took over the business, but they were specially made for a customer in Chicago who would order them from the previous owner. Kossina continued to fill that order.

“The gummy bear actually melts throughout the bratwurst,” Kossina said. “We probably make six to 700 pounds a year.”

Schubert’s expanded their production of the gummy bear brat and started selling them regularly inside their shop approximately 5.5 years ago. Before they could make the gummy bear brats in bulk, Schubert’s had to get everything approved through the USDA.

Kossina was inspired to add candy corn brats to Schubert’s menu approximately three years ago. He said he was walking in the store around Halloween time and passed by a display of candy corn and wondered if the candy corn would melt into a brat. So he made about six pounds of candy corn brats. He had his employees taste them, and then he knew he was on to something.

A regular customer of Schubert’s told Kossina, “That sounds disgusting.” But the customer doesn’t like candy corn to begin with. Kossina said another regular customer came in and she told him, “I love candy corn, and I love your brats.” So Kossina said if a person likes candy corn, they’ll like these brats.

In the fall, Schubert’s makes about 300 to 350 pounds of candy corn brats, and they sell out.

He said there are some people in Wisconsin that make the gummy bear and candy corn brats.

“In me talking with them, they’ve had the same success that we’ve had,” Kossina said.

Outside of their specialty items, Schubert’s best seller is their natural casing 100 percent beef little smoky.

Kossina said Schubert’s is currently trying to come up with a specialty Thanksgiving brat. If you have any ideas, you can contact Schubert’s here.

Before becoming the owner of Schubert’s, Kossina worked in financial services. He said he specialized in helping small business owners create exit strategies.

“So I approached the previous owners and they didn’t have an exit strategy. They had three kids that I thought would take over the business,” Kossina said. “So I found out that I was their exit strategy.”

He said he worked for Larry Schubert for five years and learned to make everything in the sausage kitchen.

Eventually, the Kossinas took over the business from the Schuberts. Now two of Kossinas sons work at Schubert’s too.

“We’ll transition it to the two boys when I’m ready to retire which is not anytime soon,” Kossina said. “I kind of view myself down the road like Phil on Duck Dynasty. I’ll come in, mess things up for a while and then leave and let the two boys fix it.”

In keeping with the strong German heritage of Millstadt, Kossina’s grandparents on his mother’s side and on his father’s side are from Germany. Kossina grew up in Columbia, Illinois. He said the home he grew up in is just four miles from Millstadt.

“When I played baseball, I played baseball in Millstadt, and I knew a lot of people in the town before we moved in,” Kossina said.

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