In my other life, I am Mrs. Griffin

Senior Kaitlyn Neel is the mascot for Mrs. Griffin’s Barbecue Sauce, a company her family owns

In my other life, I am Mrs. Griffin

When I was 10 years old, I was sitting at the dinner table with my family.

My dad, Roland Neel, asked us if we thought he should buy a company called Mrs. Griffin’s Original Barbecue Sauce.

I had never heard of it. I always had liked barbecue, but I had never tasted or seen it in the store. I had no idea it was made in Macon and was the oldest barbecue sauce in Georgia.

At the time, my dad also owned a company called Private Label Products. The company produced and labeled  bath products for other businesses.

When he said he was thinking about buying Mrs. Griffin’s, the first thing I can remember saying was, “Wouldn’t that be a little gross to make it in the same factory as bath products?”

I’m sure my father probably did not consider my comment when he made his final decision. He did buy the company — and a separate factory to make it in as well.

I am often asked to dress up in the Mrs. Griffin’s costume for promotional events. The costume is a 7-foot tall bottle of Mrs. Griffin’s, with wide eyes and a bright smile.”

— Kaitlyn Neel, Stratford senior

Since my dad bought Mrs. Griffin’s in 2010, it has never been a one-man show. It has been a family affair.

Now, I am often asked to dress up in the Mrs. Griffin’s costume for promotional events. The costume is a 7-foot tall bottle of Mrs. Griffin’s, with wide eyes and a bright smile.

My father said that smile was modeled after the prettiest smile he could think of — my mother’s.

I have made appearances in the costume outside Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, at the Georgia National Fair in Perry, at Macon Mayhem games at the Coliseum and   several Wal-Marts, which carries the barbecue sauce.

Inside the bottle, I get plenty of hugs from little kids. I pose for lots of photographs. I often cannot see where I am going.

It has been an adventure for the whole family. I’m proud of my dad for turning it into the company it is today.

And I’m glad he decided to buy Mrs. Griffin’s, even if  bath products and barbecue sauce don’t mix.