About Us


Hermie Kerner

Most Co-Op power lines go to farms, but here and there across rural Ohio they also tap into unique, energetic little industries. No where else in the country will you find a business quite like H & K Products. H & K stands for “Hermie Kerner”

When Hermie Kerner first started the Pappy’s Sassafras Tea business (1962), he produced a product that was mainly seen as a novelty, or souvenir item. His Sassafras Tea was contained in a “Little Brown Jug”, which could be made into a table lamp after drinking the tea. Since people liked the tea’s flavor so much sales continued to grow, and after putting all of their resources into the most modern “brewing” equipment they could find, (the Kerners now had an impressively efficient little factory.) The demand for Pappy’s Sassafras Tea grew and a private label for a gourmet store was developed.

Although Sassafras shrubs and trees are plentiful and grow wild from Maine’s Appalachian range to the Ozarks, they cannot be cultivated. The roots have to be dug by hand in the early springtime when the flavor- filled sap is still in the sassafras root. Once in the Columbus Grove plant, the red, yellow and white bark is blended for flavor and graded in a motorized machine made by Mr. Kerner.

sassafras-jug2“They buy every bottle I can make” (Hermie says smiling, obviously reflecting his success.) “There is a lot of untapped territory with the new wave of interest in natural foods. If I could get these bottles out to California, they would really move,” Hermie stated.

Mr. Kerner was very successful for many years with Sassafras Tea. He later passed on the business to his daughter and son-in-law, Sandra and Don Nordhaus. Don has continued “Hermie’s dream about California”. A few years ago, Don also spelled success in SASSAFRAS. He reached their dream by expanding to the West Coast and California and Washington was added to the many states that all ready handle the familiar Pappy’s Sassafras Tea. Our short stout green labeled bottle is in many grocery and health food stores throughout the United States thanks to our many distributors.

Our sales are in areas populated by elderly people who remember the days when sassafras tea was taken as a spring tonic and thought to have medicinal properties. Thanks to today’s health-oriented society, younger people bent on being fit and trim, keep our 0 CARB, LESS THAN ONE CALORIE AND CAFFEINE FREE tea in great demand.

Jeff Nordhaus, 3rd generation, now manages H & K Products for his Mom and Dad and enjoys the sweet aroma of sassafras daily when he enters the plant. Every morning the employees start their day with a cup of tea, discuss any news and update any changes to be made in the day’s production. Jeff also enjoys all the letters and phone calls they receive daily from customers. Some people ask about our tea, others just call to say they really enjoy Pappy’s Sassafras Tea. Many say it brings back memories from the past spent with their grandparents. Please keep those letters and phone calls coming. We love to hear from you and respond personally to each letter we receive.

It is interesting to see in our UPS book how many interesting places in the world our tea has been shipped. We have sent to Korea, England, Hawaii, Alaska, Canada and Mexico. It is amazing to talk with these customers about how they first heard about our tea. The most usual response we get is, I heard about it from a friend.

If you have not tried Pappy’s Sassafras Tea, check the tea section in your grocery store or local health food store and pick up a bottle, or give us a call at (419) 659-5110. You’ll be glad you did! Your help in asking your grocery store manager to order our tea from their specialty food distributor would help us enormously.

We also sell our sassafras concentrate direct to several brewing companies to make original 1800’s Root Beer. This is how original root beer was named because they used the “root bark” of sassafras. We have also sold our tea to businesses for making sassafras jams and jellies.  We also offer our own Pappy’s “HOMEMADE” Sassafras Jelly.

In the fall of 2001, H & K Products introduced a new liquid concentrated green tea brewed from all natural extracts of green tea(Camelia sinensis).  Pappy’s Green Tea liquid concentrate was developed with the health conscious consumer in mind.  Pappy’s Green Tea is prepared in the same manner as our Pappy’s Sassafras Tea.  Pappy’s Green Tea offers 105 mg of antioxidants, 0 Carbohydrates and less than 1 calorie per serving.  Antioxidants are beneficial in providing protection against cardiovascular diseases as well as fighting the body’s free radicals that are associated with some cancers.  Pappy’s Green Tea offers as much as 5 times the amount antioxidants per serving as some of the other leading brands of Green Tea.

NEW in 2008, Pappy’s further extended its product line with the introduction of its Pappy’s Raspberry Tea Concentrate.  Its been an instant hit with customers and restaurants, as it delivers a beverage that provides a hardy raspberry flavor with just the right hint of all natural black tea.  Truly refreshing, with no after taste!!!

H & K Products is an old company that puts all our resources into quality. While Pappy’s Sassafras, Green and Raspberry Tea sales continue to grow, and you continue to enjoy our teas, please tell your friends about us, as this is how we have grown over the years. We at H & K Products, would like to “THANK YOU” for enjoying our “Pappy’s Sassafras, Green and Raspberry Teas.