Anyone attending local farmers’ markets, music festivals or art shows during the past year may have spotted the brightly colored Big Crush Slush Company banner and the engaging couple underneath filling orders for full-size drinks while freely handing out samples of their frozen concoctions.
Tim Sanders and his wife and business partner Jody Burbank don’t think twice about those complimentary samples. They know the quality ingredients and fresh flavors will keep customers coming back.
IN THE MIX
Comparing Big Crush Slush Company’s sophisticated, smooth slush beverages to convenience store varieties is like comparing micro-brewed to mass-produced beer or coffee made from freshly roasted beans to a cup of instant coffee.
There are no glow-in-the-dark, artificial colors. Each flavor is made from simple, natural ingredients. For example, the syrup for the signature Ginger Lime slush is a simple combination of ginger root, lime, organic cane sugar and water.
Creating innovative frozen beverages bursting with natural flavors and boasting ingredients free of additives was not exactly a snap. Corporate employees during the week and entrepreneurs on weekends, Tim and Jody used their kitchen as a research center where they sampled various syrups and other flavoring options.
“Some were not natural enough or just not up to snuff,” Tim recalls. “They weren’t what we would drink or give to our daughter.”
Months passed by before they located a locally sourced juice concentrate that fit all of the criteria for freshness, flavor and being preservative-free. When they did, the next step was getting their slushes to the people.
BUILDING THE BUSINESS
The origins of Big Crush Slush Company date back to the days when the family lived in Seattle.
“We were obsessed with food trucks but there were no great drinks to go with that fabulous food. That was the gap we wanted to fill,” explains Jody. When job transfers landed them in Tampa, the couple’s quest for creating a high-end beverage continued until they felt they hit on the right resources and were ready to take their product public.
It’s been more than a year since they started making the rounds at monthly markets like those held in Carrollwood and Hyde Park and major events like Mainsail Arts Festival in St. Petersburg.
At each event, they serve up three base flavors – Ginger Lime, Lemon Citrus and Arnold Palmer (a combination of black tea and lemon). Each can be enjoyed solo, in combination or customized with fresh toppings such as pureed fruits or chopped herbs to add another layer of flavor. Popular pairings include Ginger Lime garnished with guava and Lemon Citrus with watermelon and mint.
COLD DRINK, WARM RECEPTION
If customer response and sales are any indication, the company founders literally, and figuratively, crushed it … so much so that the Tim and Jody are developing the next phase of their business to accommodate a larger customer base while making sure they don’t compromise quality for quantity.
“It’s been a joy for us to see how people care about quality and flavor,” Jody continues. “We want to grow but we want to control that growth and maintain the integrity of our products.”
Big Crush Slush Company, various locations during weekend markets and events throughout Tampa Bay. bigcrushslush.com