After 100 years, Gaspar’s has original recipe for Portuguese sausage success
One of largest manufacturers of Portuguese sausage in the country, Gaspar’s Sausage Company, Inc. in Dartmouth is hitting a milestone this year: Its 100th-year anniversary as a family-owned business.
"It is a symbol—the traditional sausage carried on for five generations. More than a way of living, it is a legacy, part of our Portuguese heritage,” said Robert (“Bob”) Gaspar, who runs the business along with his cousin Charles (“Charlie”) Gaspar and fourth generation sons of Charlie, Chuck and Randy. Also involved in the business are fifth generation brothers Jeffery and Billy Gaspar.
The company’s mainstay products are linguiça, a mild smoked sausage, and its spicier cousin, chouriço. These are available in supermarkets throughout the East Coast, particularly in areas having Portuguese-American populations, including parts of New England, Virginia, the Carolinas, Florida, New York and New Jersey.
In those locations, Gaspar’s products can be found in major supermarket chains. The company also operates a retail store at its headquarters and has a mail-order and online business.
The family’s sausage-making legacy began in 1923 in New Bedford, in the backyard garage of Manuel A. and Justina Gaspar, who had emigrated from Portugal in 1912. Like many immigrants, they came to the U.S. in search of a better life, and Justina’s family recipes for Portuguese sausage became the means to that end.
Instead of working in the area’s textile mills, Manuel turned to sausage-making, drawing on his own vision and skills and the formulas that would secure his family’s future for more than four generations.
In the beginning, Manuel would grind the pork, add the spices, and stuff the mixture into casings, which were hung and then smoked by fires lit by hand. His sons Alfred, Joseph, Charles, Tobias and Fernando would help out after school, chopping garlic, hanging the sausage, or later, making deliveries around New England in a Model T Ford.
Manuel died in 1955 after seeing his little family business grow into a large, successful company. By the time of his death, with the company thriving, operations had moved to a larger facility in New Bedford, with four of his sons at the helm. .
By the company’s 50th anniversary in 1973, linguiça and chouriço found their way into traditionally Anglo-American and international cuisine, from breakfast omelets to dinner entrees. Regionally, Gaspar’s sausages added smoky flavor to New England clam boils, linguiça franks were on the grill at Fourth of July barbecues, and thin-sliced linguiça was topping pizzas.
The company moved again in 1981 to a larger, 36,000-square-foot facility in Dartmouth, its current location. Bob and Charlie Gaspar, Manuel’s grandsons, led the company through the expansion and still run the business today.
Gaspar’s employs a staff of approximately 60, including fifth-generation family members. Producing well over three million pounds of sausage each year, the company has expanded its facilities yet again, along with its product line.
In addition to pork and turkey linguiça and chouriço sold in links, franks, slices, patties, ground, loaves, and bite-sized pieces, Gaspar’s now offers Mexican chorizos, Andouille, and kielbasa.
Although their manufacturing technology has advanced, Gaspar’s still uses the same ingredients and focuses on customer service and family.
“We maintain a family atmosphere,’’ Robert Gaspar said. “It isn’t only a business, it’s a tradition.’’