PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 12: Reggie Kelly #82 of the Cincinnati Bengals is hit by James Farrior #51 of the Pittsburgh Steelers after catching a pass during the game on December 12 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Reggie Kelly, who is currently a free agent, has been busy during the lockout. In fact, he's been busy since 2005, when he and his wife first decided to try to create and sell their own brand of salsa. The new Salsa, named Kyvan, a combination of his daughter's name, Kyla, and his son's name, Kavan, has already made its debut in Kelly's home state of Mississippi. Now it's time to make its debut in what Kelly calls his second home, Cincinnati.
"March 5 of this year, my wife and I, we just decided to go ahead and start selling it in Mississippi," Kelly said during our conversation on Monday. "The people down there have really been supportive. They really liked the salsa and they've really been spreading the word, so there's a nice buzz going now in Mississippi. But like I said, Cincinnati is like my home away from home, so I wanted that to be the next area that we targeted. So now it's time for us to start working on the Cincinnati, Kentucky area and getting them familiar with the product as well."
The process of getting the people of the Cincinnati area acquainted with Kyvan salsa will begin on Saturday, June 4 at Jungle Jim's International Market on Route 4 in Fairfield, about half an hour north of Cincinnati from noon to 4 p.m..
"We're going to have a free sampling for all the fans and whoever may want to come out and sample the salsa for free," Kelly said. "I'll be giving free autographs and free pictures. Whatever people have that they may want me to sign, I'll be available to do that. Then from that day forward, they'll actually be selling the product in the store, the mild and the hot salsa."
I asked Reggie about how spicy his mild salsa is, mainly because I'm a baby when it comes to spicy stuff. For those of you who can't handle anything more than the occasional banana pepper, he assured me that the mild should be tolerable, even for me.
"The mild is pretty mild, but it does have a little bite to it at the end," he said. "It's nothing that you couldn't handle, because, I'll be honest with you, I'm not a guy that likes a lot of spicy food, either. I would prefer my salsa mild. So, if I can take it, trust me, you can take it too."
What many people, including me, fail to realize is that you can't just decide to create a recipe because it tastes good and mass produce it. There are hoops to jump through and plenty of red tape to cut through.
"It's a long strenuous process to get all the legal documentation together, to get all the recipes together, to make sure that they can be mass produced," Kelly said. "Now, just recently, in March of this year, we just started selling it on the store shelves in Mississippi. You can't just come up with a recipe and a name and a couple months later decide to sell your product. There's a lot more work that goes into it."
Kelly has obviously been busy with the salsa, but he admitted that football will always be his first love and even though Kyvan has kept him on his toes throughout the lockout, he has still had plenty of time to keep himself fit in preparation of playing football in 2011.
"I've been pretty busy during the lockout," he said. "But obviously football is my first love. I enjoy the game of football and I've always dreamed of playing in the NFL and now the dream is a reality and I just can't get enough of it. So I've been training extremely hard, even though we're we're locked out right now. I think the right thing to do, and I think the responsible thing to do, is to make sure that you're fit and that you're prepared that whenever the lockout is lifted that you're ready to hit the ground rolling full speed. So I've been training my body extremely hard during this offseason, making sure I'm completely prepared for that, but in the process of me doing that, I've been out doing some other ventures that I've been wanting to do for quite some time, and obviously that entails the book [Prepared: Body, Mind, Spirit] and the food line."
Reggie will be at Jungle Jim's on Route 4 in Fairfield from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday June 4. Whether you're a salsa connoisseur, a fan of spicy foods, a Bengals fan or just want to meet Kelly, I suggest you make the trip to try his new Kyvan salsa.