Oprah spotlights Natchez in ‘Favorite Things’ list

Published 12:02 am Friday, November 6, 2015

NATCHEZ — A taste of Natchez landed in the national spotlight Thursday as Oprah Winfrey shared jams from a local business with the world.

The gourmet all-natural jalapeño jams at D’Evereux Foods in downtown Natchez were featured in Winfrey’s highly anticipated annual list of “Oprah’s Favorite Things.”

“I love just about anything from Natchez, Miss. — especially these all-natural jams, which would be perfect in the morning with a biscuit,” Winfrey wrote on oprah.com. “They have varying amounts of jalapeño, so you get a little heat with your sweet.”

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The list, which makes national headlines every year, included 87 of Winfrey’s favorites. A spot on the list generally spikes sales of featured products.

D’Evereux Foods owner Ashleigh Aldridge said she felt the “Oprah effect” as soon as the list was published on oprah.com Thursday morning.

“I could tell exactly when they went live with the story on the site because orders just started rolling in online at 6:30 (Thursday) morning,” Aldridge said.

Aldridge found out she made the list three weeks ago, but had to keep it a secret under a confidentiality contract.

Aldridge met a couple of Winfrey’s assistants after they found her at a market she attended in Atlanta.

“They gave me their card, and I carried it around in my pocket for two weeks saying, ‘I’ve got the golden ticket,’” Aldridge said, laughing.

Aldridge then submitted her product for the list and went through a series of cuts before making the final list.

“Honestly, it felt surreal,” she said. “I wasn’t even nervous, just really excited. Then, when I found out, I had so much work to do, I really couldn’t think about anything but that.”

In preparation for orders that would come as a result of making “Oprah’s Favorite Things” list, Aldridge put into production 30,000 jars of her jams — 10,000 of each of the three flavors.

A typical batch of jams — huckleberry jalapeño, sweet pepper jalapeño and strawberry jalapeño — consists of 1,000 jars.

Aldridge said she averages a couple of online orders a day for the jam, which is also sold at the company’s location on Main Street.

“We’ve had about 75 orders online already (on Thursday),” Aldridge said.

“Oprah’s Favorite Things” made its way Thursday around various Internet websites and news outlets, including Good Morning America, USA Today and others. The list is curated on Amazon, and amazon.com featured the D’Evereux Foods jams on its homepage Thursday.

Aldridge, 25, said she is proud to represent Natchez and is thankful for the support her business has received from her hometown.

“I’m just really thankful for my town,” she said. “There’s no where else where I could have made this work, so I’m just really excited to be from Natchez right now.”