Not only have Earle Rothwell and Lee Manning known each other since fifth grade, the connections between their families began in the 1960’s. And what is even more unusual, both men’s families go back generations in California: Lee’s family for 5 generations and Earle’s for 3.
That’s probably why their Earl’s Gone Wild Sauce evokes the sunny Southern California climate. (They decided to drop the “e” at the end of Earle for simplicity’s sake.)
Earle and Lee have been in a joint venture before: the popular rock and roll circus act, Dread Zeppelin. The group sold over half a million CDs and traveled around the world, before disbanding in the mid-1990’s.
Neither Earle nor Lee has formal culinary training, but both are avid amateur cooks.
“Earle developed his sauce over years of backyard barbecuing,” Lee explains. “He took all the best qualities of what he found on store shelves and made his own. Everyone – including me – talked him into making it into a business, so he and I formed a partnership to begin the business in 2008.”
The right people to help with research and development were key. It also helped that Lee had his own photography and website design business, so he could contribute those skills to Earl’s Gone Wild. “For the sauce Earle’s the creative side, and I’m the business side. He’s got a lot of ideas, and I’m the filter,” Lee says with a smile.
The two men share commitments to using healthy ingredients. “You won’t find anything ‘mysterious or difficult to pronounce’ on our label,” Lee says. “It comforts us, and we hope it comforts our customers.” They are also committed to using U.S. made supplies and services when at all possible.
“We feel that what goes around comes around, and we value quality and sustainability over saving a buck.”
That’s why Earle and Lee are so cool!