CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - Forget the golden years. One Concord senior is just as busy as ever after launching a sweet business It's based on a family recipe that has fans saying, "that's my jam!"
"When they taste this, they say, 'mmm that's good,' and under their breath, they'll say, 'mmm that's really good!' It's almost like clockwork," Chef and jam creator Robert Long said.
That's because Long's jams really are that good, based on mom Esther Lee's secret recipe. Her kitchen creations were famous, says Robert.
"We would come in and it would almost be a knock down drag out to see who got the spatula and who got the beaters. And she would always make these small sample cakes, so she would make the big cake, and then she would make the small sample cake for us to have right after it came out the oven, it would be warm and it would just be like heaven."
Years later, Robert thought his neighbors might enjoy a taste of this heaven as Christmas gifts, so he dialed up his mom.
"She told me what she used to do for us as kids. So I came back and I did a test batch and it turned out to be decent."
So decent and so in demand that Robert decided to go into business. A few years later, Esther Lee's Premium Homemade Spreads are selling well.
Not bad for a retirement hobby turned side hustle. That's just the way Robert wants it. He's not one to sit back and take it easy.
"I have something interesting to do on a daily basis and it keeps me moving. I don't want to be one of those individuals who's just sitting around, wasting away doing nothing.
So far, he's got three offerings: Triple Berry Blend, Strawberry and Sweet Pepper, the clear fan favorite.
"I sell more of this than the other two combined," laughs Robert. And when I tasted it, I instantly knew why.
After 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, working as a pharmaceutical rep and a financial advisor, Robert says this gig is decidedly sweeter.
"And I probably until I am no more, whenever I get stressed, I'll cook."
After all, it's the family tradition. Esther Lee's legacy lives on. Robert smiles. "She would probably be tickled. Tickled. She would like it."
To get your own bottle of Esther Lee's, just visit Diana's Facebook page.