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West Des Moines neighbors Russ Cerniglia and Frank Ksiazak both love barbecue but were dissatisfied with the sauces they were buying.

So one night while they were sitting on the deck shooting the breeze, they came up with the idea of making their own.

After a year of tinkering, they came up with the final recipe for Russ & Frank’s BBQ Sauce, which is now being used in restaurants and sold at specialty stores in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Florida and Colorado.

“I think the big thing with our sauce is it doesn’t overpower what you put on it,” Cerniglia said.

The recipe is top-secret. But the secret is entrusted to Triple K Manufacturing in Shenandoah, where the sauce has been produced commercially since 2004.

If Cerniglia and Ksiazak produced the sauce themselves, “we couldn’t keep up with it,” Cerniglia said.

The amount of sauce sold per week varies. The week before the July 4 holiday, 100 gallons were sold.

The sauce comes in three varieties: Mild, Sassy and Fiery.

Cerniglia, who is a tax director at Ruan, and Ksiazak, who works in IT at Allied Insurance, don’t compete in barbecue competitions themselves, but their sauce does.

The Smokin’ Clones team from Des Moines uses Russ & Frank’s BBQ Sauce. Cerniglia and Ksaizak often go along to sell jars of their sauce at competitions.

Cerniglia and Ksaizak plan to attend the Up In Smoke event in Mason City with the Smokin’ Clones to sell their sauce.

Being involved with the Smokin’ Clones is good advertisement for their sauce, according to Cerniglia.

“We work well together,” he said.

Want to try it?

* Russ & Frank’s BBQ sauce can be purchased locally at Val’s Specialties in Mason City, Barn Boutique in Northwood and Daisy’s On Main in Clarion.

* It also can be ordered online at www.russandfranks.com and www.burntbuttbbq.com.

* The sauce and sampling will also be available at the Burnt Butt BBQ booth at the Up In Smoke event for $5 per jar, and at the Smokin’ Clones booth.

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