Made in Louisville. Yep, that sure has a nice ring to it. From baseball bats and aluminum foil, to snacks and other fun finds, we’ve rounded up 17 things homegrown in Derby City.
While some of these brands have branched out beyond our city, one thing’s for sure — there’s some major inspo happening around these parts.
It’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball game. The Louisville Slugger baseball bat has been swung by the likes of Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, and Hank Aaron + dates back to 1894 when it was created by the Hillerich & Bradsby Co. (H&B). Founded in 1855, H&B is on its fifth-generation of family ownership.
Fun fact: Sluggers were the third most used bat brand by Major League Baseball players from 2019 to 2023.
If you’ve ever wrapped up your leftovers in aluminum foil, chances are LOU had something to do with it. The Reynolds Metal Company was founded in the 502 in 1919, and created its famous Reynolds Wrap in 1947.
At the height of the disco era in the 1970s, ~90% of all disco balls were produced by Louisville-based Omega Mirror Products. The Baxter Avenue-based company has been operating in Glitter Ball City for 50+ years.
Bonus: The Myriad Hotel on Bardstown Road occupies a former disco ball factory, and the hotel’s name is a nod to that shiny history.
Stoneware & Co.
Formerly known as Louisville Stoneware, the company dates back to 1815 and has a long list of famous customers. Mamie Eisenhower, the former US first lady, used the company’s products as her everyday dishware in the White House. And when Queen Elizabeth visited for the Kentucky Derby in 2007, she was gifted a music box created by the company.
In 1951, General Electric brought its appliances division to Louisville, and ever since the Appliance Park has manufactured out GE refrigerators, ovens, ice makers, and more.
The Alani Nu brand of energy drinks and workout supplements was founded in Louisville, but it’s reach goes far past the banks of the Ohio River. The company offers the Kimade energy drink, a collab with Kim Kardashian. Talk about keeping up. Last year, the company invested ~$8 million on a new headquarters on Triton Park Boulevard.
Flavored chewing gum
In the 19th cenutry, Louisville pharmacist John Colgan invented the first flavored chewing gum called Colgan’s Taffy Tolu. Colgan took his invention to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, where William Wrigley, Jr. came across it. Wrigley ran with the idea, and the rest is history.
This Crittenden Drive-based brand launched in 2015, offering potato chips in flavors like Kentucky BBQ, Irish Pub Style, and Sweet Thai Chili + three flavors of popcorn. Buy them online or pick them up at grocery stores like Kroger and Valumarket.
Okay, this one’s not quite Louisville made — just yet. Last year, this pretzel-maker announced it would roll its manufacturing operations into the West End, investing $137 million in a production plant. The 434,000-sqft facility will be located at 1391 Dixie Hwy., with operations set to begin in September. Stellar makes vegan pretzels, baked with sustainably-sourced ingredients. Order online, or pick up a bag at local retailers like Breeze Wine Bar & Spirits.
Food and drink
Kaelin’s restaurant in the Highlands claims it was the first to put cheese on a hamburger, doing so in 1934. The legend continues at 80/20 at Kaelin’s, at 1801 Newburg Rd., where a plaque hangs on the wall, honoring the historic occassion.
Bonus: Kaelin’s also was the first restaurant to serve Harlan Sander’s Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe in Louisville. That’s a lot of foodie folklore.
In other places, Benedictine might be known as a French liquer, but in Derby City its a cucumber spread. It was invented by Louisville restaurateur + cookbook author Jennie Carter Benedict in the early 1900s, and is traditionally served as the filling in tea sandwiches.
The Old Fashioned
Louisville is synonymous with bourbon, and it only makes sense that one of the most famous bourbon cocktails was allegedly invented here. According to lore, Col. James E. Pepper invented the drink at the Pendennis Club in the 1800s, and in 2015, it was named Louisville’s official cocktail. If you want to try it yourself, the ingredients are simple: bourbon, sugar, water, and bitters.
Henry Bain’s Famous Sauce
Like the Old Fashioned, this steak sauce has its roots in Louisville’s Pendennis Club. Henry Bain started as an elevator operator there in 1881, before working his way up to maître d’. Along the way, he perfected his sauce recipe. You can order a bottle for $11, or visit local restaurant like the Bristol Bar & Grille, where it’s served with a New York strip.
Kern’s Kitchen produces this Louisville classic, which is similar to a chess pie with chocolate chips + a walnut topping, served warm. It began as a Kern family recipe in 1954, but these days the business bakes ~6,000+ pies during Kentucky Derby season. Order one online for $30.
The idea for the business came to founder Dan Oliver while he was serving chicken at the former Diamond Pub and Billiards in Louisville. In 2016, he took his seasoning mix to local farmer’s markets, selling it wherever he could. But the business took off in 2020, thanks in large part to Oliver’s TikTok page, which has 4.4 million followers. Today, you can buy six Dan-O’s seasoning mixes online, or at over a dozen local groceries.
If you’re a regular LOUtoday reader, you know by now that the Jackman is from the ‘Ville. Atherton High School’s most famous alum routinely reps Derby City everywhere he goes, and the city whips its lovin’ on him, baby.
My Morning Jacket
Singer-songwriter Jim James formed My Morning Jacket in LOU back in 1998. Ever since, the band has performed at numerous festivals around the world and recorded 10 studio albums. Plus, MMJ’s drummer Patrick Hallahan is an active member of the community, working with local charitable organizations.
What’s the deal with airline food? New York lays claim to the legendary 1990s sitcom “Seinfeld,” but Derby City contributed one of its most iconic features. Jonathan Wolff composed the show’s music.
Bonus: Like Harlow, Wolff is also an alum of Atherton High School.