Middle school student builds homemade salsa enterprise

September 7, 2016

Salyards Middle School seventh-grade student Jacob Johnson displays several mason jars of his homemade product, Jake’s Atomic Salsa. Johnson has almost 80 regular customers who purchase jars of salsa for $5 apiece.

Sept. 7, 2016—Salyards Middle School seventh-grade student Jacob Johnson found a unique way to spice up his college savings goals when he launched his own homemade salsa business in 2014 as a fifth-grader at Rennell Elementary School.

“I wanted to make a citrusy salsa without cilantro or big chunks of onion so I worked with my stepdad on the ingredients until we got it just right,” said Johnson, whose family has always been active with cooking and grilling. “After we perfected the recipe, I just wanted to share it with everyone. I thought it was so good so I started taking it to school with me.”

Word began to spread throughout Rennell, and the demand became so great that Johnson started selling his signature recipe in mason jars for $5 apiece.

Salyards Principal Liz Wood holds up a jar of Jake’s Atomic Salsa, fresh made by seventh-grade student Jacob Johnson. The salsa comes in four varying degrees of heat. 

Jake’s Atomic Salsa was born, using what he calls “all-natural, fresh ingredients, grilled peppers blended to dipping perfection,” the salsa comes in four levels of heat that tie into his career aspiration of geology: Molecular (mild), Fore-shock (medium), Aftershock (hot) and Radioactive (atomic).

“I had a request from a teacher to kick the heat up a notch, so I added more habañeros to really bring the heat,” Johnson said. ‘Her husband had to drink milk to cool off, so I guess you can say it’s pretty hot!”

Johnson has continued his business venture into middle school, accruing between 75-80 regular customers. To keep up with the demand, he spends several weekend hours purchasing ingredients, grilling peppers and canning the contents into pint-sized jars with his own custom labels. He has set up his own Facebook page, and hopes to eventually grow his business by setting up a stand at local farmer’s markets.

Proceeds from salsa sales go directly into Johnson’s college savings fund. His goal is to save up enough money to pursue a geology degree at Texas A&M University.

“I want to be a geologist so I know I will be at A&M for a while and I’m ready to get started on that,” he said. “I have my own savings account and I appreciate all my customers that have contributed to it.”

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