Throughout life, we receive advice, whether we want it or not. In any case, we politely thank folks for their imparted wisdom. Although we may frequently discard unsolicited recommendations, sometimes we recognize their value and readily accept them. Reggie and Sheila Kelly, trace the origins of their fruitful KYVAN Foods empire to a team cookout. The spouse of one of Reggie’s teammates noted the spices and distinct flavors in the dish the Kellys prepared. In fact, she enjoyed the food so much that she suggested they trademark the recipe and market their product nationwide. Thanks to that recommendation, KYVAN Foods was born, and since its inception in 2005, business has skyrocketed.
After playing tight end at Mississippi State University from 1995 to 1998, Reggie Kelly went pro. In addition to having a successful career with the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals, Reggie is passionate about Southern food. Equipped with their favorite family recipes, the Kellys developed a successful food line, which families throughout the nation now enjoy. “It was a long process but once the product made it to the testing phase, it was a hit with some of the biggest retail distributors,” Reggie stated. Wal-Mart was the first major distributor to make KYVAN products available to consumers.
The KYVAN Foods motto is, “One taste and you will appreciate the goodness.” The company’s most popular product is honey apple salsa. Reggie loves the salsa because of its versatility. “Honey apple salsa is salsa with soul,” stated Reggie. He enjoys it on his eggs, hash browns, meatloaf, baked beans, and several other dishes. KYVAN Foods currently offers 13 products, including salsas, sauces, seasonings, jams, and jellies, the recipes for which appear on its website.
The Kellys incorporated the names of their daughter, Kyla, and son, Kavan, into the name of their business. Each day, through their successful enterprise, the Kellys demonstrate to their children how to help people in need and give back to their community. KYVAN Foods sponsors free camps for young athletes and furnishes complimentary athletic gear. In addition, KYVAN Foods feeds communities devastated by natural disasters and provides financial support to senior citizens and communities in need.
The Kellys further demonstrate their commitment to community through volunteerism. Reggie and Sheila support many causes and make appearances throughout the U.S., and they frequently return to Aberdeen, Miss., and continue to do what they can to enrich the community from which they hail.
The KYVAN enterprise is a labor of love. “The partnership works well for our family,” stated Sheila. “It’s a dream come true.” In 2017, the Kellys plan to expand their brand via traditional retail venues and online. In addition, the Kellys hope to continue their brand expansion into the food service industry. Future target markets of KYVAN Foods include restaurants and hotels.
Approximately one half of Kroger stores nationwide, primarily locations in the eastern U.S., sell the KYVAN Foods product line. Select Wal-Mart locations carry KYVAN products as well. Some items are available at Amazon.com and Walmart.com, and the complete KYVAN Foods product line is available online at kyvan82.com.
Photography by Nikki McKenzie