“You’ll Never Amount to Anything!”
People are best convinced by things they discover for themselves. Benjamin Franklin
The essence of the Queen City Sausage Company is found in Elmer Hensler’s early school days. Being a Catholic in the 1930s meant that you were educated in your local parish’ school, which almost always was adjacent to the local church. Here you would find the classrooms with nuns filling the job of educator, church representative, and the authority figure students encountered daily. This was generally a no nonsense situation. You towed the line!
Elmer was not a particularly good student of the formal education process. It was simply too confining and uninteresting for him. Once he had the basics mastered; reading, writing and arithmetic, he grew restless. At age 12, Elmer was starting to look beyond school for his education. In fact, he had his eye on the local slaughterhouses that were just blocks away from his home in Cincinnati’s West End, known as the meat packing district, aka Porkopolis!
This was the beginning of a new education process. A new opportunity to learn new skills, be around real life situations and be paid to learn too. Young Elmer simply could not pass this up.
4:00 AM is early. Especially if you are one of nine kids and are determined to wake yourself up, go to the slaughterhouse, work and arrive by 8:00 a.m. to school. Every day! The nuns were keenly aware of Elmer’s before school work and did not like it. Not only did young Elmer bring in a bit of smell from the kill floor, he also carried in fresh stains from the slaughtering process. The nuns were beside themselves. Elmer was even more determined. You need to understand. Understand that In those days, very few students defied the nuns. It was scary and there were consequences both at school and at home.
The nuns, deeply concerned for Elmer’s future did all they could to “save” Elmer. They went as far as telling him “You’ll never amount to anything!” Elmer was undeterred. He found his future and knew right then and there what he wanted.
The Early Years, Findlay Market.
Part 2 Success is the sum of small efforts—repeated day in and day out. Robert Collier
Elmer loves to tell stories of the early formative years, growing up in Cincinnati’s West End. This was the early 1930s and Cincinnati, like the rest of the country was reeling from the crippling effects of the Great Depression.
Elmer and younger brother Art were out exploring the West End at an early age, trying to earn money. Elmer was 7, Art was 6 and the West End’ Findlay Market was “the” place for young entrepreneurs. Elmer recalls buying paper shopping bags for 2 cents and selling them for a nickel to busy Findlay shoppers. This was real money to the boys and opened the doors to other odd jobs in the Market. Pop bottles, when found, were worth 2 cents. Young life was good!
“I always knew as a boy that if I wanted anything in life, I would have to work for it.” Elmer states. Being one of nine kids in the challenging times of the depression, Elmer did not have to think long and hard about this. It was quite evident. The bustling Findlay Market proved to be the foundation and instilled a great work ethic in Elmer. He was able to see at this early age the direct relationship between hard work and pay.
1930s Cincinnati Part One
“I knew at an early age that if I wanted anything in life, I would have to go and work for it!” Elmer J. Hensler
Elmer J. Hensler was born May 29th, 1930 in Cincinnati’s West End. He is one of 9 children and was fortunate in one way in that his father worked for the railroad, so his dad’s modest income was at least steady.
Cincinnati was in the midst of the Great Depression. Herbert Hoover was president and he argued that the economy would work itself out and the worst had passed. However, the worst was just beginning. One out of four people were out of work.
Elmer often speaks about being a child growing up in the 1930s. One of his favorite stories is when he was about 7 years old. Elmer and younger brother Art were sneaking a smoke from their dad’s cigarettes. They decided to hide in the closet, next to a clothes hamper. They had to hurry and put out the cigarettes, and without thinking about the consequences, they attempted to extinguish the smokes in the hamper, causing a smoldering fire. Fortunately the smoke was quickly discovered by their mom. A good whipping resulted when their father came home that night.
The other story Elmer tells is having to leave the house through the second story window during the 1937 flood. Elmer tells of how they were transported to safety in a row boat. He also speaks about the river rising way up covering Spring Grove Avenue and the water catching fire due to all of the fuel leaking out from the storage tanks down by the river.
These were tough times but Elmer never complains when reflecting. He only speaks about finding ways to work and earn money. That was always his focus and that’s how it remains today.
Most back yard grillers can be classified into two groups. The “Hurry and Let’s Eat” griller and the “Slow--It Will be Ready When it’s Ready” aficionado. Both strategies have merit. For the time starved and hungry, the home grill can be fast and easy. For the passionate-chef inspired, the grill is an opportunity to create. What if you can have the best of both; speed, incredibly delicious food and inspired family gathering experiences?
Great sausage grilling begins with simple basics and time honored techniques. This is not complicated yet it does require some planning and perhaps a slight shift in your thinking. The shift I am talking about is your attitude towards grilling and the bounty you will produce from your grill. What if rather than just cooking on a grill you make the grill the centerpiece of the gathering. Create the right conditions over and over so when guests come to your home, they know and anticipate the meal because you are known for your grill mastery. Grill mastery can be as simple as this;
7 Steps to Sausage Grilling Mastery
- The sausages you select matter. Quality varies greatly. Reputation matters. Queen City Sausage is the leader in Cincinnati. Best ingredients. Small batch production. Real hickory wood smoke. Hand mixed spices. Craft sausage makers specializing in mettwurst and bratwurst.
- Serious grillers use natural casing sausages. The natural casings hold in the flavor and juiciness of each sausage.
- Make the grill the center of attention. Let your guest know upon arrival what is on the menu and what sausages they can look forward to.
- Toppings: Toppings simply make grilling more exciting. Onions, peppers, sauerkraut, and coarse ground mustard are my favorites. These key toppings naturally compliment the grilled sausages flavor.
- Build anticipation. My secret? I start cooking the onions and pepper topping first. I don’t just heat them up, I use a small pan and sauté them with my favorite Italian dressing and Worcestershire sauce. This sends an aroma throughout the party and out into the neighborhood. This smoky, onion infused aroma is a signal that a wonderful meal will soon be served.
- Get the Queen City sausages ready. The trick? Parboil with your favorite full bodied beer. Simmer the links for about 5 minutes. The links will swell and heat evenly from the beer.
- Don’t spoil the party! Slow down. Now add the sausages to the medium heated grill. Use tongs. Forks pierce the sausages and cause flare-ups which result in dry-burnt sausages. Turn often. Natural casing sausages burst open when at their grilled perfection. Remove from the grill, platter up and serve.
These are my grill tips. I have an advantage. I work for the Queen City Sausage Company. I know and see great sausages being made daily. I see the knowledge, passion, recipes and best ingredients that go into every sausage.
One more tip; The Cincinnati region is well known for brats or bratwurst. No, Cincinnati brats are not the raw sausages you find outside the area. Instead Cincinnati brats are slow cooked (steamed) pork and are whitish in color and fully cooked. Simply grill and serve. The taste? Wow! Want some? Visit www.queencitysausage.com and click on BUY. Here you will find our best selling sausages. Additionally Queen City Sausages are available in the Greater Cincinnati area at Kroger, Meijer, Remke/biggs, Findley Market , independents and the Cincinnati Reds.
Press Release November 21, 2014 Cincinnati, Ohio
“I wanted to take a moment to let you know that we have reached a very difficult decision. We have decided not to go forward with our treasured Queen City Sausage Festival.” This quote is from Mark Balasa, Director of Marketing at Cincinnati’s Queen City Sausage Company. The festival has been a huge success and has far exceeded expectations. In just 4 short years the festival achieved over 65,000 visitors for the 3 day weekend and delighted festival goers with delicious Queen City sausages in over 27 different dishes! The selection and creativity was incredible! While the festival was a big asset, it was a huge time and financial commitment on the part of a small company. Queen City Sausage is fortunate to have many “irons” in the fire such as sponsorships with the Reds and Bengals to name just a few. Additionally the company is expanding and adding a new addition to their production facility. “So, after much thought, Queen City management decided to end the festival while it was on top and wildly successful. We are proud of the festival’s success and community acceptance.” According founder and President, Elmer J. Hensler. Queen City Sausage wishes to thank all who have helped make the festival great!!! This includes customers, food vendors, musicians, the City of Newport, Christian Moerlein and so many others who helped build the Queen City Sausage Festival. The friendship and support is greatly appreciated.
Mark Balasa Director of Marketing