An Anniversary to Remember
By Zack Lamothe.
Gaspar’s, the beloved Portuguese sausage company out of Dartmouth, is turning 100 this year. The purveyors of the finest chourico and linguica, Gaspar’s is a family-run business whose products are found in markets throughout the East Coast and in Bermuda. They also run a thriving mail-order business, and their products can be shipped anywhere within the country. Gaspar’s, in fact, is the nation’s largest Portuguese sausage manufacturer.
The story of the sausage company begins over a century ago with Portuguese immigrants Manuel and Justina Gaspar. Manuel arrived in 1912, as did his soon-to-be bride. They settled in Providence where they would sell their house-made linguica; the linguica and chourico recipes from Justina’s family are the same recipes that Gaspar’s uses today. Next, the couple moved to New Bedford where Gaspar’s Sausage Co. began in earnest in their garage on Circuit Street in 1923. As the company grew, it moved to another New Bedford location. In 1981, Gaspar’s migrated to its current 36,000-square-foot facility in Dartmouth.Read about our 2017 Visit to Gaspar’s Here
It’s a true family affair at Gaspar’s. Today the company is helmed by Robert Gaspar and his cousin Charlie, who represent the third generation of the family, as Manuel and Justina’s grandchildren.
The fourth generation of the Gaspar family includes Randy and Chuck; even the fifth generation, Randy’s children Jeffrey and Billy, work there too. Jeff works in sales. Billy’s position includes packaging, taking orders, and, as he puts it, “a little bit of everything.” Randy and Chuck manage the plant. When asked about his career, Randy reflected, “I thought all along that I would end up working here. It seemed like a natural progression for me as my father was in it. I started working here as a kid during summers and school vacations.” Jeff agrees that for him the job just “sort of fell into my lap and I ran with it.”
The Gaspar connection links their family to their customers’ families. For the sausage lover, Gaspar’s brand of sausage has become a family treasure. The more than 100-year-old sausage recipes have been passed from one generation to the next as family heirlooms. In my own family, my mother is known for her jambalaya, which includes the perfect blend of chicken, shrimp, and chourico. And the secret ingredient is Gaspar’s sausage, of course!
For Gaspar’s, it really is a family affair. Billy elaborates that one of his favorite aspects is “the ability to spend more time with my family. I am lucky to be able to see them every day, and I get to spend a great deal of time with my dad. Many of our employees have family here as well!”
Viewing Gaspar’s legacy with a wide-angle lens highlights the personal connections that their sausage has brought people for decades. I mention to them that given Gaspar’s history, it must be incredible to be part of such a family legacy. Randy replies, “I never actually thought about that. For so long I was just working. You start young and it just kind of becomes who you are and what you do.” Billy adds, “You also learn a lot of jobs because when people get sick you have to fill their job for a while. So the skills you learn just begin to accumulate. Because of this, I can’t even give an accurate description of my job!”INGREDIENT 101: CHOURICO
When it comes to recipes, Billy touches on some of his favorite uses, “My mom makes excellent chourico and peppers crockpot dishes for parties, as well as the best Thanksgiving stuffing. My brother makes great mac and cheese with our andouille sausage. I also enjoy making Portuguese rice and usually include Cacoila with eggs. I even put just the Cacoila spice in my eggs a lot of the time.” (Cacoila spice is a concoction of spices often used in making the Portuguese pulled pork and other Portuguese meat dishes also known as Cacoila.) Some customers use Gaspar’s sausage blended into hamburgers or baked into bread. Others use it in traditional dishes, make it into a hash, or grill it served on a roll with peppers and onions.
Gaspar’s has been able to thrive as a company for a century. As a society, we have gone full circle from homemade and farm fresh as the norm to using preservatives and microwavable meals and back to focusing on fresh and local food. Gaspar’s has survived a time of mega-corporations and remains independent and steadfast in their commitment to their product and their customers. Randy explains, “Customers tell us that their parents started buying our sausage when they were kids and now they’ve grown along with us. For us, it’s about the product and customer service. You treat your customers right.”
Today Gaspar’s has embraced the 21st century while keeping its old-school values and recipes. Fully utilizing the internet and shipping from coast to coast has helped the company modernize without losing sight of its ultimate goal, making the tastiest Portuguese sausage around.
Even mentioning the idea of celebrating their 100th anniversary, the Gaspars go about it as if it were just another year. Randy laughs at my question about plans for a celebration, “We haven’t even come up with it yet.” Jeff adds, “I said to my dad that 100 years is coming up, maybe we should make stickers or something.” Billy joins in on the ribbing, “Maybe we should make 200th-anniversary stickers because they might be ready by then!” Clearly, their focus is on the product.
I mentioned to them a story a friend told me. He was raised in a Portuguese family and always ate Gaspar’s sausage. When his brother moved out to California, his mother shipped the sausage out to him. Instead of being surprised, the Gaspars’ lack of reaction showed how commonplace this practice is. Even though linguica and chourico are being made on the West Coast, they don’t compare with the quality of New England’s most famous sausage company.
Gaspar’s sells a list of products; of course their most famous chourico and linguica. Chourico is very similar to linguica but is spicier. Gaspar’s has expanded to offer other items too such as kielbasa, andouille, and Mexican chorizo. At their production facility, they also have a retail outlet. Here you can buy their sausages, and other products too.
At Gaspar’s, sausage is life, and we as customers are thankful for that. Congratulations on the first 100 years and cheers to the next 100!
Gaspar’s Sausage Co., Inc
384 Faunce Corner Road
North Dartmouth, MA 02747
Zack Lamothe was introduced to Gaspar’s by his mother. Although of Polish and Italian heritage, she raised him on jambalaya made with Gaspar’s chourico or linguica. Served at family get-togethers, Gaspar’s holds a special place in his heart and stomach.