by Sydney Hembrough
In the span of 50 years Robert Black’s secret seasoning, Black’s Magic, has gone from local treasure to a must have product across the nation.
Black, who never planned on going into the seasoning business full-time, tells The Source he started developing Black’s Magic in the 1950s as the owner of the Blackhawk Smorgasbord Restaurant and Village Pump in Jacksonville. “I wanted to create a seasoning that people would enjoy and keep coming back for, so I got together with a cook and we started working on a recipe. We had the idea of what we wanted in the seasoning, but it took us a few days to get the mix just right and I continue to ‘tweak’ the recipe to this day.”
Black says he must have done something right, because people from all around Central Illinois flocked to the Blackhawk restaurants for dishes served with Black’s Magic until the mid-1980s.
“After a while, people started requesting to buy my seasoning. At first it was just a few people, but eventually there was a big demand for it,” says Black.
After selling Black’s Magic to local families and businesses, word quickly spread around the Midwest. “I was getting phone calls from everywhere. I’ve sold Black’s Magic in 22 different states and internationally. Right now, I’ve got orders going out to South Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Minnesota and a lot in Missouri.”
Now that Black is retired, he spends most of his time in the basement of his house prepping and bottling seasonings for customers. “I enjoy making it and hearing the good reports. I’ve got a pretty efficient system where I can whip up a batch in 30 minutes. I just love sharing my product with people.”
Black encourages food lovers to check out Black’s Magic “original” and his other tasty Black’s Magic seasonings, which are available at Farmers Market at Lincoln Square and from Bob directly.