AnnMarie Hilton, Sheboygan Press
SHEBOYGAN – At 15 years old, Tryg Jacobson found himself lying on a mountain in Haiti, with his first camera in his hand, looking up at his father wearing a straw hat.
He snapped a photo.
They were exploring. His dad, who went by Jake, loved people, Haitian art and exploration.
“He always wore that hat when we were exploring,” Tryg said.
Jake would have been 100 years old this year. He died 25 years ago, but Jake’s name is memorialized in Sheboygan not only though Jake’s Cafe, but Tryg’s other business: Jake’s StrongGinger Juice.
Every bottle of Jake’s StrongGinger bears the image Tryg took on that mountain in Haiti and reads, “Jake traveled the world and was known for his healing remedies. He always had ginger by his side.”
Jake used to eat ginger religiously. Tryg, on the other hand, hated it back then.
The ginger juice company was born out of Tryg’s struggle with acid reflux. While researching different foods with anti-inflammatory properties, he kept coming across ginger, so he began adding it to his diet.
His daughter suggested that he start juicing the ginger. So in the end of 2011, Tryg set up his new juicer in their kitchen at home and began his endeavor into an organic juice business — though he didn’t know that at the time.
At first, Tryg said they were only getting a little bit of potent juice and were left with a bunch of pulp. He started adding water to the pulp and juicing it again. Through trial and error, Tryg was able to make a ginger juice that he shared with people at Jake’s cafe. They loved it so much they started paying him to make more.
“At this point, I’d taken over our kitchen at home,” Tryg said.
His wife appreciated his efforts and the benefits of ginger, but she kindly requested her kitchen return to its normal state.
Tryg sojourned to the kitchen at the former Bertram’s Jams, Jellies and More. His friend there helped him get through the paperwork and other bureaucracy that comes along with developing a product that can be sold for consumption. Jake’s StrongGinger Juice passed all the requirements for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection.
By then, Tryg said they were bottling the juice and had started to sell it at Goodside Grocery co-op. The store’s distributor saw the juice and inquired about bringing it to other stores, too.
Bottles weren’t enough anymore, so they started packaging the juice in growlers. The business was really taking off and with little marketing efforts on Tryg’s end.
Then, Bertram’s Jams and Jellies closed. Tryg was left with increased demand for the ginger juice, but no place to produce it.
Tryg was involved with Nourish, a Sheboygan Falls-based nonprofit that connects kids and families in need with local produce, so he was able to move his juicing equipment to its facility. It was there he, his wife and his business partner, Kevin Widder, realized that they were capable of filling 50 to 70 growlers a day.
Their next step was to enter the Kohler Chocolate Brandy Recipe Contest in 2017. They developed a recipe named “Austrian steam,” which was Kohler hot chocolate with one shot each of Kohler Chocolate Brandy and Jake’s StrongGinger Juice. Topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, the recipe won and was served in the Woodlake Market coffee shop.
Jake’s StrongGinger now had high visibility at Woodlake Market, and Tryg was asked to talk with and provide samples for people at Yoga on the Lake.
“That was the real turning point,” he said.
Tryg said clients at the yoga studio liked the juice, and he credits that event as a catalyst for more word-of-mouth advertising.