When Charlie Ferguson – better known as Crazy Charlie – ventured into business 30 years ago, his commute was a dream. He trekked from his kitchen to his vegetable garden and back. “I began by making salsa from the tomatoes I grew in my garden,” he says. “I was prompted to begin producing my products commercially because a large number of people expressed an interest in the marketing of my products.” Ingredients aren’t the only homegrown part of Crazy Charlie’s salsas. He develops each recipe, too. Charlie takes great pride in the Hoosier heritage of his food. “Indiana produces the best tomatoes in the world,” he says, “which is a major ingredient in my products.”
Crazy Charlie’s products have won a host of prestigious awards since 2003 when he brought home top honors in a Hot Gourmet Salsa Division of the International Zesty Foods Show in Fort Worth. Among many other awards, his products have taken first place at the 2005 Low Carb Flavor Awards in Albuquerque; the 2006 and 2007 Scovie Awards at the National Fiery Food Show in Albuquerque; the 2006 America’s Zesty Best Food Competition in Costa Mesa, Calif.; the 2007 and 2008 America’s Best Food Competition in Anaheim, Calif; and the 2004-06 and 2008 Fiery Food Challenge in Fort Worth. But it’s customer satisfaction about his products’ taste and good-for-you reputation that gives him the most pleasure from his work. It means a great deal to him when Indiana Artisan and other fellow Hoosiers recognize his award-winning products.
“It is a great honor for my salsas to be designated Indiana Artisan,” he says, adding that he wanted his salsas to be part of the organization’s brand “so more people will be able to enjoy the products I produce.”