When a group of women at First Baptist Church in Clover got together to taste each other's casseroles, they knew they were sampling great food. What they didn't know was those casseroles would soon be available grocery stores across the state.
The recipes they used evolved into Mama D's frozen foods, a line of products created by Clover natives Mike and Bill Brackett.
"We just want to offer people good products at competitive prices," said Bill Brackett, President of Brackett Group, which produces the meals.
The frozen meals are available at more than 70 Piggly Wiggly stores across South Carolina and could soon expand to Alabama, Brackett said.
"The feedback we've gotten has been tremendous," Brackett said. "And sales in Clover have been phenomenal."
The brothers named the brand Mama D's after their mother, Delilah, who passed away a few years ago.
The line of products features breakfast casseroles including hash browns, ham or sausage. The company also makes frozen pizzas, either pepperoni, cheese or a five-meat pizza, which was the springboard for the entire line.
"That's where we started," Brackett said. "I moved to Seneca in 2006 and purchased a small pizzeria. All through 2006 we experimented with sauces. We decided to market the five-meat pizza to Ingles."
It took about a year for the first line of frozen pizzas to get off the ground, Brackett said. That's when the brothers decided to expand their products.
Vance Stine, a long-time friend of the family, remembers when the brothers were considering the expansion.
"Mama D was very active in the church," Stine said. "So they assembled a group of women from her church, First Baptist Church in Clover, to bring in some covered dish recipes to try and recreate some of (Mama D's) recipes. They tasted great."
Brackett said about 25 people showed up to help fine-tune the ingredients.
"Our mother passed away in '06. She was a member (of the church) for 35 or 36 years, so her friends were happy to take part in it," Brackett said.
In early 2008, the expanded line of Mama D's frozen pizzas and casseroles were introduced to the public, and Piggly Wiggly stores began to shelf them across the state.
"We're planning on expanding to Food Lion. We've seen interest in the recipes for a private label, meaning the recipes would be the same, but they would be marketed by Food Lion," Brackett said.
The Greater Clover Chamber of Commerce and Piggly Wiggly recently sponsored a celebration of success for the Brackett Group, and dozens of customers and community leaders got to sample some of the products.
In addition to the pizzas and casseroles, the company may soon introduce red rice meals, Brackett said.