What Happened To Custard Stand Food Products After Shark Tank?

In 1991, Dee and Angie Cowger opened the Custard Stand in their hometown of Webster Springs, West Virginia. They sold ice cream, hot dogs, and sandwiches, but their most popular item was undeniably their chili dog, made from a family recipe Angie's grandfather created in the 1920s. In 2003, they decided it was time to bring the hot dog chili to retail and grocery stores. They transformed the car wash behind their restaurant into a production facility, and Custard Stand Food Products was born.

The Cowgers were very proud of the fact that their all-beef chili contained no additives or extra preservatives and was free of trans fats. They also sold a hotter chili soup that contained beans and tomatoes. They became very successful on a regional level, selling their chili in Walmart, Kroger, and Sam's Club, but they wanted to bring their chili to all of the U.S. "Shark Tank" fans will likely remember their 2016 episode because the Sharks truly enjoyed the product, and each of them even praised the Cowgers, calling them an example of the American Dream.

Custard Stand Food Products didn't get any Shark Tank offers

Angie and Dee Cowger appeared on Season 7, Episode 19 of "Shark Tank," asking for $400,000 in exchange for 10% of their company. Considering this would put Custard Stand Food Products' evaluation at $4 million, the Sharks were initially startled, but the Cowgers assured them that their company had made $1.6 million in revenue the previous year with a profit of $217,000. Between their restaurant, five franchise locations, and their products' regional success, the Cowgers seemed to be making their mark. They were also adamant that the franchises weren't part of the deal.

Daymond John was the first to drop out after questioning how much money they requested, citing the high costs of rolling out nationwide. But when Robert Herjavec asked if the couple had any debt, the Sharks got an answer they weren't expecting: $700,000. The Cowgers explain that $320,000 of that was from the store owned by Custard Stand Food Products, while the rest was for a new 18x36-foot freezer they bought to store their product.

Herjavec, Lori Greiner, and Kevin O'Leary were next to pass, but they all gave the couple kudos. Mark Cuban was the last to bow out but told them, "You are everything that everybody watching this show aspires to be, so you should be very proud of yourself."

The brand's growth exploded after appearing on the show

While Angie and Dee Cowger were understandably disappointed that they couldn't secure a deal on "Shark Tank," the exposure catapulted Custard Stand Food Products into the limelight, immediately increasing online sales by 5,000%. The company received orders from nearly every U.S. state, and retail and grocery stores increased their stock of Hot Dog Chili and Chili Soup. New stores also began showing interest in carrying Custard Stand Food Products. The Cowgers received countless texts, phone calls, emails, and social media messages of support and had even more opportunities on the horizon.

Angie told Food Business News in 2016 that she and Dee had expected to get an offer on "Shark Tank," and their failure to do so was "gut-wrenching." Nonetheless, "It was a beneficial experience and one we would certainly do all over again," Angie said. "We would just be a little more prepared, in case a deal wasn't offered." Even without a deal, their appearance on the show was helpful, as the couple was soon able to hire more staff, increase distribution, and watch Sam's Club move their product into 30 new stores. A few months later, the brand announced in a Facebook post that Custard Stand Food Products had become the Official Chili of West Virginia University (WVU) Athletics. Deal or no deal, the Cowgers' company was getting the national recognition they were after.

The company has fully embraced social media

Years after appearing on "Shark Tank," Custard Stand Food Products is still going strong. While its online shop still just offers the Hot Dog Chili and the Chili Soup, there are also T-shirts and hats for loyal customers who want to show their love for the brand.

In a January 2024 Instagram post, the company posted its New Year's resolutions, which included purchasing a food trailer, hosting more in-store demos, fulfilling orders in-house instead of through third parties, and making the Custard Stand logo more ubiquitous. It also announced in a separate Instagram post that a subscribers-only newsletter was coming soon, and those who signed up would receive an exclusive "special." The company is active on both Facebook and Instagram, posting frequently about its various sales and offers. It's also active on TikTok, with members of the Cowger family regularly posting behind-the-scenes videos.

Angie Cowger is also active in the business community as a panelist and a strong supporter of small businesses. In 2023, she won the award for West Virginia Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year, and later in the year, she spoke at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce's Annual Meeting & Business Summit.

Custard Stand Food Products is still expanding

Angie and Dee Cowger are still doing what they do best: sharing their Hot Dog Chili and Chili Soup with as many people as possible. The business is also active in its local community by donating to nonprofits and local food pantries, as well as providing food for events.

Custard Stand Food Products is also still expanding. On "Shark Tank," Angie told Robert Herjavec that she wanted Custard Stand Food Products to be "that national brand. We want to be that product that is everywhere" — and she meant it. In 2022, Custard Stand Food Products' Hot Dog Chili and Chili Soup appeared in 1,000 new stores, and in 2023, the company announced that it would start selling its products in 300 more stores across eight states (via WDTV).

The Cowgers also know it's essential to demonstrate that their products are great recipe additions. For those customers who are tired of eating chili dogs, the company's website features a recipe page for everything from Chili-ghetti to Chili Mac and Taco Chili Pizza. Angie even posted a TikTok on Valentine's Day 2024 demonstrating how to make adorable hearts with hot dogs, crescent rolls, and a container of Hot Dog Chili for dipping. The Cowgers may not have expanded their product range, but they're certainly focused on making Custard Stand Food Products a household name.