Here's What Happened To Mee-Ma's Gumbo After Shark Tank

Since 2009, countless small businesses have had their dreams either realized or crushed on "Shark Tank." Some even have the misfortune of scoring that life-changing investment, only to have it slip through their fingers in the show's aftermath.

One such business was Mee-Ma's Gumbo, created by Carole Foster in 2007. Foster wanted to share her Mee-Ma's gumbo recipe with the world, and her goal was seemingly inching closer and closer as grocery chains like Costco expressed interest in selling her product. However, Foster didn't have the capital to fulfill such large orders, so she took a chance by pitching her frozen gumbo blocks to the "Shark Tank" investors.

In 2013, Mee-Ma's Gumbo appeared on Season 4, Episode 23 of the show, asking for $200k in exchange for 20% of the company. To Foster's relief, the Sharks — were intrigued, but she still had a long journey ahead. So, where is Mee-Ma's Gumbo today?

The Sharks fell in love with the story behind Mee-Ma's Gumbo

Carole Foster entered the Tank with her Mee-Ma's gumbo recipe, wholeheartedly believing that it was an iconic Cajun food everyone should try. She explained to the Sharks that a proper gumbo takes hours to make, but not everyone has that time — so she turned a well-seasoned gumbo base into a frozen brick that could be thawed when needed.

The Sharks loved the flavors of Foster's chicken and seafood gumbos, but they perked up even more upon hearing that Mee-Ma's Gumbo bricks had made about half a million dollars in sales over two years by selling weekly at Costco.

Unfortunately, some of the Sharks started to back away as Foster confessed that her business was making very little profit, as nearly all its revenue went toward keeping her family afloat. She shared that she was living on friends' couches and out of a van, putting everything she had into her Louisiana gumbo recipe. That honesty seemed to go a long way with Sharks Kevin O'Leary and Lori Greiner. They offered her the $200k in exchange for 50% equity, which Foster accepted.

A 'Shark Tank' deal doesn't always lead to smooth sailing

As some of the most memorable "Shark Tank" food companies can attest, an investment does not necessarily guarantee success, and vice-versa. Mee-Ma's Gumbo quickly found this out the hard way, as its "Shark Tank" deal never went through.

That said, moving forward without a much-needed investment wasn't the only challenge Mee-Ma's Gumbo faced. Just days after the episode aired, Carole Foster apologized to her customers on Facebook, explaining that the Mee-Ma's Gumbo website hadn't been prepared for the sheer number of orders that came flooding in following its televised appearance.

Fortunately, the business was somehow able to catch up and soon announced that it would be selling at additional Costco locations, as well as select Publix, Safeway, Albertsons, and Vons locations. By late 2013, Mee-Ma's Gumbo was also starting to offer shipping, albeit on 12-pack orders, each costing $225. Fans begged for smaller purchase options, desperately wanting to make Cajun food at home with Foster's frozen gumbo bricks.

Is Mee-Ma's Gumbo still in business today?

Though Mee-Ma's social media pages have been quieter in the time since Foster's "Shark Tank" appearance, the business seems to still be chugging along as of late 2023 and is estimated to be worth $1 million. Mee-Ma's Gumbo shared in 2022 that it was working on new strategies, and shortly thereafter, the company launched its own cornbread batter kit.

Today, Mee-Ma's Gumbo products include the original gumbo base bricks, bagged chicken gumbo, microwave-ready jambalaya, tea cake dough, and the aforementioned cornbread batter. Products range in price from $8 for frozen broth to $24 for ready-made pie fillings — a sharp contrast to the $65.95 a single gumbo brick used to cost.

Interestingly, Carole Foster has also released a memoir detailing her "Shark Tank" experience, titled "Shark Pranked: How I Got Jerked Around by That Stupid 'Investor' Show." Her book received mixed reviews, with some readers rallying behind Mee-Ma's Gumbo, and others saying the narrative was confusing and disrespectful to those involved.

What's next for Mee-Ma's Gumbo?

For the time being, it seems that Mee-Ma's Gumbo is content to let growth come naturally, as the business has been mostly quiet on social media and seemingly chooses to focus on sales. In addition to selling through its website, Mee-Ma's also still sells through Albertsons, Vons, and several mom-and-pop stores in Los Angeles.

As such, it's hard to say what the future holds for the business, though we can only imagine it'll continue to share more classic New Orleans foods with its fanbase. After all, there's no shortage of people looking for quick, easy meals, particularly when it comes to comfort food.

In the meantime, thousands of devoted followers are hoping that Mee-Ma's makes its way into grocery stores across the country so they, too, can enjoy a pot of seafood gumbo whenever they please. The progress is slow but steady, so it may only be a matter of time.