Gertrude Sassard, who for more than half a century presided over the production of Mrs. Sassard’s jellies, pickles, relishes and preserves, died Monday. She was 87.
Sassard in 1962 inherited the Mt. Pleasant condiment company – and the closely-guarded recipes which were critical to its success — from her mother-in-law, Edna. Although Sassard was faithful to the popular Jerusalem artichoke preparation which in 1917 inspired the commercialization of Edna Sassard’s canning hobby, she added a number of products to the line, including iced tomato pickles, iced cucumber pickles and sweet onion relish.
Under Sassard’s leadership, Mrs. Sassard’s artichoke relish maintained its status as a revered Charleston symbol, eventually showing up in television host Stephen Colbert’s standard gift basket for guests. “We have memories of eating it on hot dogs at Pitt Street Pharmacy,” food writer Matt Lee told a Sandlapper Magazine writer; Lee and his brother, Ted, sell nine Mrs. Sassard’s products through their online food catalog.
According to the same Sandlapper story, Sassard’s son took a jar of the relish to school whenever beans were on the menu. “We mix it with cole slaw and potato salad and we just love it in tuna salad,” Gertrude Sassard said.
In addition to overseeing Mrs. Sassard’s until last year, Sassard was an active member of St. Andrew’s Church in Mt. Pleasant and various community service groups. A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. tomorrow at St. Andrew’s.