T. H. Carson & Son’s 6-Step Product Development Cycle

There are 6-Steps between Product Inception and Launch…

Theodore Jr. introduces the process that each and every T. H. Carson & Sons Product goes through before it hits our stores, as well as the people involved in transforming an idea into a delicious product that you can take home with you.

Market Research

Ideas have to start somewhere!

It used to be that all our concepts, flavours and spice blends, originated from my Father’s travel experiences in the States. He spent decades travelling throughout the Deep South, so long in fact that he forgot why he was there in the first place. Our current development process takes inspiration from our company’s heritage of pioneering and exploring the world of food.

jetsetting

Each year we select a group of Carson employees from across our infrastructure and send them to the a foreign land to source new flavours and ideas. Food technicians, packing managers and retail assistants leave their everyday job for a fortnight to discover and collect new ways of smoking and flavouring our signature cuts. They return with a bunch of new ideas and those are passed onto the men and women of our butchery team.

Meat Cut Selection

My Father formed solid trade deals with local farmers in our region of Scotland over fifty years ago – those business relationships are still intact today.

The beef, pork and poultry that we source from Scottish farms have been fed well and given good lives before being sent to the abattoir. It’s up to our butchers, working in tandem with our food scientists, to figure out what cuts of meat will work with our newly sourced flavours.

cow

This process is never rushed. Each cut of meat within each animal has its own taste notes and these need to carefully matched with a balance of spices and seasoning, in order to not obliterate the natural taste of the meat. Once the spice mix and meat cut combination has been settled, the next step in the process is really what imbues the product with it’s Carson identity.

Smoke & Grill Formulation

Each country and culture has it’s own method of smoking meats.

In India, banana leaves and Tandoori ovens are used to embed their foods with a rich, sweet smoke. In the States, a variety of home-made contraptions are designed to imbue their steaks with rich wood smokes. Here in Scotland, we use a blend of aged Apple-Wood shavings to sweeten our cuts, before passing on the (almost finished) product to our team of food scientists.

smoking-rise

We would never dream of selling our steaks and sausages without concise directions on how to cook them. We want our customers to be able to enjoy our products at their best – that means they need concise, clear instructions to follow, so they can give the meat the respect it deserves.

Sample Quality Control Testing

Just before putting our products into full-scale manufacture, a series of quality control checks must be made – to ensure that we adhere to the highest of health and safety regulations.

We have a small dedicated team of Food Technicians who put every morsel of our meat through highly scientific checks so that, when we push the go button on our new range of products, we can have absolute confidence in the safety of the meat we provide.

food-testing

At this point, we always take the opportunity to involve the entire company in tasting and evaluating the new range. We have great faith in our employees here at T. H. Carson, they know meat and they’re not afraid to give us their opinion. If the product’s good enough for the men and women who work for us, then it’s more than good enough for the general public.

Packaging & Design Manufacture

Just before we send out our exciting new lines of sausages, steaks and patties – we now need to make sure that the food looks great on the shelves of our local village stores and in the fridges of the 5 bespoke butchers that are spotted around our great county.

This is where our wonderful team of designers begin their work, in tandem with our Packing Manager Ann-Marie Fenn (who’s freshly returned from her research trip to Goa, India) to ensure that the products we’ve worked so hard on can jump off the shelves and into our customers’ shopping baskets.

meat-history

Of course, there’s not much point in releasing a new set of products without letting the public know – that’s where our SEO Liverpool Agency comes in. We work closely with this Northern company to ensure ease of proliferation in the market place, so that both our loyal customers, as well as potential new meat lovers, are fully aware of the new cuts of spiced goods that are about to enter their lives.

Retail Roll Out To Stores

When the day finally arrives for our new products to hit the shelves of select supermarkets (and our bespoke butchers), the teams are all exhausted after nearly a year of research, taste formulation, product testing and designing.

celerbation

The finished products are cooked in-store and samples are prepared for our customers.

The T. H. Carson team all breathe a collective sigh of relief before turning their eyes to the rest of the world and wondering where we’ll be flying off to next to inspire our next line…

 

 

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A Cockney Gal in Goa

Before coming out here to Goa, I’d never left Europe.

All my holidays as a child were to France and Spain. I remember those fortnight-long vacations used to feel like I was travelling to another planet. The futuristic airport, the deafening sound of the jet engines and the strange warm breath of a new country as you stepped off the plane.

My name is Anne-Marie and I’ve worked for Theodore Henry Car & Son for the entirety of my working life – that’s over 30 years.

They’ve treated me well over the years, my pay has increased year-on-year and I’ve steadily rose through the ranks to become Manager of Packing. However, regardless of how well both Theodores have treated me over the decades – nothing had prepared me for my invitation to a Research trip to Goa.

The answer was always going to be ‘Yes’ – but I still faltered a little when Theo Sr. announced the team that would be going out to India.


th carson historyFor the last few years, the Old Man (I know he won’t mind me calling that) has come into the factory to make the big announcements.

Many of the more recent members of staff are always perplexed as to why a well dressed elderly gentleman visits the factory on a monthly basis, to talk to us all.

Those few of us who were hired by the man, all those years ago, always look forward to his rousing speeches – projected as if he were talking to a mass of a thousand.

cockney womanWhen he mentioned my name as one of those flying out at the end of the month, I almost died. Everyone in the Department was there, they all knew who I was. So when my name was read out, they all turned to face me, with the same astounded look on their face. It wasn’t that they were jealous – they were incredulous.

My employees know me, they know I’m an old fashioned Cockney girl. I like walking my two dogs, Eastenders twice a week and a good old fashioned Fish’n’Chips on a Friday. I’m a creature of habit.

food researchThe idea of this (slightly plump) thoroughly British woman, being dumped in the heat of bustling Goa, would probably seem outlandish to anyone – let alone the ones that actually know me.

My husband almost had a heart-attack when I told him. He’s never been much of a traveller either. Forever my partner in crime, I think he was just uncomfortable with the idea of my being in a foreign country without him.

But here I am. At the age of 58, sweating, breathless but exhilarated and far, far away from home.


If you’re reading this Frankie – I’m having a ball.

goa hotel

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5 Important Factors In Our Meat Process

We’ve been smoking all our own meats here in Hasselshank for over 4o years now, and we like to think we’ve learnt a thing or two about the finer details in the business.

Although our CEO, Theodore Jr., likes to think that he knows everything there is to know about smoking meat, that hasn’t stopped him from pulling in talent from all across the world so we can pool our resources and produce the best quality meats in town. 

Whilst the big boss has been away on holiday (and touring the country in The Meatsmobile!) we’ve been talking to all our employees here in Hasselshank and asking them what they think the most important part of the meat smoking process is.

From our factory workers to our food technicians, everyone has their own 2-cents on the matter and we’ve selected the choicest responses for you to read here:

Dry Rub

“For each and every one of our smoked meats, we develop a specific spice rub to complement that particular meat’s flavour notes. We try and go as left field and possible when it comes to this part of the process – it’s important to surprise people when it comes to food. ]

That’s why our venison cuts are rubbed in a spice mix comprised of a ras el hanout and sprinkled with a light dusting of cinnamon. Without this important stage, the end product would be robbed of it’s depth of flavour and the customer would really be missing out.”

Geraldine Saxsmith, Food Technician

Apple-Wood Smoke

apple-wood-chips-for-smoking“What good is smoked meat without the smoke?! We use Apple Wood to treat all our pork products, it might seem like a no-brainer to even the most ignorant of foodies, but it’s something that still needed tight fine tuning.

All our sausages, loins and chops are smoked in a shed space using serious industrial fans for exactly 24 hours to provide the greatest balance of smoke. We need the horsepower to keep the smoke circulating and not let the meta simply sit in the atmosphere, it’s all very scientific – trust me!’

Jemima Lestonwhile, Lead Smoker

5-Day Hanging

meat hanging“Ask any butcher where the quality of his meat truly hinges and they’ll answer the same as me. It’s all about hanging, man! No, seriously, hanging is the most important part of our process here at Theodore Henry Car & Sons.

We may source all our meat locally, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ready to jump straight into the smoker. Beef, especially, needs at least 5-days to hang and oxidise in a specially controlled room. This allows the muscle sinews to relax and become receptive to the smoke and spices when they come along later.”

Sasha Vestermen, Butcher

Vac-Packing

vac pack“The entire work of the team is all for nought if the product isn’t packed and sealed at the right time. Leave it too long, and the meat will lose its freshness and the flavour will be dulled.

It’s up to us here at the packing plant to make sure that the goods are packed and shipped back to the store on time – no steak left behind! The difference between our meat supplies and the bigger chains is that our meat is sourced, hung and prepared all within a 50 mile radius; so when you eat one of our burgers you’ll be able to taste the freshness!”

Ann-Marie Fenn, Packing Manager

Sticking It On The Grill

grillling“The best part of the process? You mean, the whole thing? From animal to plate? This is a joke, right? You got to eat the food to know – it’s in the taste. That final journey from plate to mouth, that’s where the magic really happens.

The beginning of the food’s journey starts in the nose. So, I guess slapping that meat down on the pan or grill, whatever you got, that’s the most important part. When the meat sizzles and crackles, all those smells drifting up, prepping your mouth for what’s to come. Think I might have to go and fry up a sausage now!”

Theodore Henry Car Sr., Chairman of the Board of Trustees

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New Adventures In Flavour

A serious part of any product development has to be market research.

Food Technician and Amateur Chef, Claire Ramsgate, has been with the company for nearly ten years now. On the eve of her ten year anniversary, she’s been given the opportunity to fly out East on her first foodie adventure. 

packing meatBefore we start any new Adventures In Flavour, we always try to make sure that the entire team is on board with the concept and the rough design that we are aiming to achieve. Unlike other large scale companies, we have a firm belief in informing our staff (regardless of their position) about our upcoming plans and ideas. That way, if Sandra in Packing sees the memo at lunch and has a great idea of a flavour combo or a marketing angle, she can send us an email at the end of day and we can discuss the possibility of using it.

You can never have enough ideas.

happy factoryAt least, that’s something the Cars try and impart on each new member of the company. Their ethos is not so much about keeping people in line, as it is about asking people to step over it. For most multi-nationals, the idea of line workers piping up with comments or thoughts on their unfinished plans would seem absurd. But for Theodore Henry Car & Sons, things are a little different.

The big man himself, Theodore Jr., insists on meeting every new employee on their first day – to impress on them the value that they each have as an individual within the company.

That way he can be certain – that every new starter understands the policy that the company holds.

sandra in opackingOf course, sometimes you need to travel a little further afield to get the inspiration that you need. That’s why I’m off to India for 2 weeks, along with a Smoke Master and a Senior Packer, who’s been with the company for nearly as long as Theodore Sr!

This might seem a little unusual, but when you consider the Cars’ approach to staff interaction – then its hardly surprising. Our mission in India is to seek out Indian Smoking Techniques, that’s why Jemima from Smoking is coming along. Ann-Marie from Packing has earned her stripes at the company – no heads turned when she was announced as part of the Research Team. Forget her decades of loyalty and commitment, once you witness her passion for Meat Smoking you’ll struggle to resist the temptation to jump in the factory with her.

As the Manager of the Food Tech Team here at Theodore Henry Car & Sons, I’m going to be looking into spice combinations and the reactions that they’ll have with our meat.

india curry

Most people know India as a largely vegetarian country. It’s true that India is considered to have one of the highest rates of vegetarianism in the World, however the figure still stands at around a third of the population. That means that there’s a good 400 million or so meat eaters in India, all with their own unique spice mixes and preparation techniques that are yet to be discovered.

We leave for Goa in two weeks time and I simply can’t wait to discover what’s in store for us – or the company!
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End of the Tour

The end has come to our Summer Tour!

Once again, I am so unbelievably proud of my little 3-man team.

We’ve had some ups and down over the course of the last fortnight, but I can safely say that this has been the best tour we’ve had so far. We’ve smashed last year’s effort out of the park by visiting over twice as many events, including a few Farmers Markets and even a Golden Anniversary Party!

During the hours of driving and hectic set up operations, I tried my best to take notes of special moments to write about upon our return, but my memory’s not as it used to be (we’ll have to get Jeff to write one of these next time!).


So without further ado, I present to you the four best moments of 2016’s Meatsmobile Tour:

The International Food Event

Food-festival1Our third food festival on the tour, this one was by far the biggest and busiest that we’ve ever done.

It’s a good thing Grandpa got us up so early, because the queue to get into the festival ground took 3 hours alone!

Luckily the organisers were incredibly professional and gave us everything we needed to get set up in breakneck speed. This was fortunate as, by the time the lunch hour approached, we were swarmed by customers.

Theo Sr. really out-shined himself here, taking orders faster than we could keep up with them and entertaining the waiting customers at the same time – a true professional, if there was ever one.


The Smithston Wedding

wedding burgerOne of the last few stops on our tour, when it came to pulling up the fancy Manor House where this wedding was being held – we were all wrecks.

Nearly two weeks on the road had eroded all our hearts and just finding the place had already caused an argument. However, when we were greeted by the Bride and Groom (the first to be served of course) all that tired cynicism and irritability melted away.

My Jeff did a wonderful job of serving the guest of honour here, I was even surprised to see a little tear in his eye when the Father of the Bride gave his speech – what a softie!


Lost Exhaust

broken downNo road trip is complete without at least one major breakdown.

Ours came just after leaving our first Farmers Market – thankfully. I’ve never been sure about the exhaust on The Meatsmobile, the van itself isn’t even ten years old, but it’s always looked suspect to me.

Well, my suspicions were confirmed when we knocked it right off when Jeff was taking us through some country lanes. Of course we didn’t actually notice for a good 50 miles – by the time we’d realised, it was too late to go back and get it!

I’ll never forget how frightened young Jeff looked when he woke me up to tell me that the exhaust had gone, I was so tempted to pull his chain – but I knew that the time for pranking would come at a better time.


Clean Up Prank On Jeff

Parker-and-Grandpa-laughing_photogalleryDuring a typical service  we can prepare up to 80 individual meat-based meals, all of which are fried on our huge grill in the transit.

We’ve also got an oven in the back that keeps meats warm, before we re-fry them again on stove top. Even though we all take turns scrubbing those damned appliances each night (even Theo Sr. has a crack at them from time to time) we never seem to be able to avoid dirt and grease build up. By the end of the tour, both are a wreck and unusable.

This year, whilst we were driving home, I was talking to Jeff about his pay and how much of a good job he had done. I could tell he was tired, big bags under his eyes and his lids drooping. This is when I casually mentioned one last job that he had to do for me before he could get paid. I saw his eyes flick open, and his head start to take. Before I even mentioned the grills he was loudly protesting and causing such a ruckus I could barely concentrate on the road for laughing.

A good lad, I didn’t make him clean them. A decent oven cleaning service is all that was required, I’m a tough task-master, but I’m no villain.

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The Meatsmobile Is Back On The Road!

With the kids back in school, the Car’s Summer Holidays have come to an end.

camping trip

They’re all growing up, but we still get to take them on the Annual camping trip.

Since Father came back a few years ago, our family outings have become seriously challenging events to organise, it’s a good thing that I’ve had thirty years or so in business management, otherwise we’d never pull them off!

This year we visited the wonderful land of North Wales. A truly relaxing part of the world – or at least it was until we turned up!


After a week spent in the idyllic reaches of Snowdonia, I’m shattered but my summer’s far from over.

meaty marketDuring the next few weeks, I’ll be racking up some serious miles in The Meatsmobile with my oldest son Jeff and his Grandpa, my Dad, Theodore. Summer time Britain is rammed full of Food Festivals and Markets, and we make it our aim every year to see as many of them as possible.

Over the few years that we’ve been driving our big old Ford Transit, we’ve had an absolute ball meeting hundreds of new customers and making some great new friends. Theodore Sr. is well into his Seventies but that doesn’t stop him from serving all day and even cooking us up a little dinner, once we’ve shut for service.

The money we make from our gourmet burgers just about covers our fuel costs – but The Annual Meatsmobile Road Trip has never been about making money. For a couple of weeks a year, I get to spend countless hours of unbroken time with my closest family. By living and working in close confines, we slowly start to gel together until, by the end of the tour, we’re a well oiled machine. Of course there are always a few arguments along the way.


A grumpy business owner in his mid-fifties, an old man in his seventies and a teenager – doesn’t exactly sound like the most winning combination of personnel, does it?

transitMost of our customers assume, from our matching attire and cheery dispositions, that we must sleep in Hotels and leave the van each night in a secure Car Park. Incorrect!

To keep down on costs – and for more fun – we have camp beds in the Transit which we pull out each night. Every night we sleep, crammed in like sardines. Both of us old boys could probably be heard snoring from miles away, so it’s a good thing our Jeff brings his noise-cancelling headphones. I can’t say its the cure for snoring that my Dad and I have been looking for all these years, but it definitely helps!

In the next fortnight we’re hoping to visit 8 Food Festivals and 5 Farmers Market, we’re also serving food to 2 Weddings and an Anniversary Party to finish it off.

It’s going to be a tough week, that’s for sure, but it’s one that I can’t wait to tackle with two of the finest collaborators a man could ask for.

family lads

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