When I lamented my love/hate relationship with Penzeys Spices, one of my readers pointed me to an alternative spice source. I wasn't particularly looking for a new source at the time, having resigned myself to making do with grocery store spices except when Penzeys had a very, very special sale—which they seem to do every time Bill Penzey wants to point to a spike in sales as evidence that his customers support a particular political position.

But I checked out The Spice House and was blown away. I had not known the greater Penzeys story: It was Bill Penzey, Sr. who started the original Spice House company. His daughter took over the business, while his son, Bill Penzey, Jr., started his own spice company. Both companies have access to the old family recipes. The Spice House is smaller and more local than Penzeys, which they count to their advantage, all their spices still being prepared by hand in small batches, at their store.

The biggest difference between Penzeys and The Spice House is in politics. For all I know, the owners of the two stores share the same exact political views—or perhaps they are poles apart. I wouldn't know, because, unlike Penzeys, The Spice House makes a point of welcoming customers of all political persuasions, and keeping a very low profile themselves.

Here at The Spice House we are strictly a community of folks who like to cook; you will never get any lectures from us that include our personal agenda. We are just about the love of cooking and getting you the best possible ingredients to produce the most flavorful results!

Penzeys-quality seasonings without the side order of vituperation? I'm in!

My first order with The Spice House was just large enough to qualify for free shipping, because I'm trying to draw down my current spice stockpile, but what I've seen so far, I like very much. Here's a new blend that quickly became a favorite: Lake Shore Drive Seasoning: Gently hand mixed from salt, shallots, garlic, onion, chives, ground green peppercorns, scallions. My favorite alliums all together! I could only be happier if they had—without replacing this one—a blend that included all of the above except the salt, so I could add still more of the flavor to a dish.

I doubt The Spice House will totally replace Penzeys for me, as not all blends are available in both places. But it has certainly become the go-to store for my regular seasoning purchases.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 6:15 am | Edit
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My mom always got her spices from Penzeys and would share them with me. YUM! I then became a huge fan of Penzeys. But when Penzeys started berating me for voting for Trump, I decided to look elsewhere. I'm glad I found The Spice House. For all I know, The Spice House can be a cesspool of bleeding heart liberals...but as long as they don't spew their liberal hatred towards Christian conservatives, I'm good and will shop at The Spice House!

Posted by Laurie on Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 12:02 am

Note to frequent readers: The Laurie who made the above comment, and the Laurie from my childhood who also sometimes comments here, are not the same person, even though their two most recent comments came one right after the other.

Posted by SursumCorda on Friday, April 03, 2020 at 4:11 pm

Add me to the list of crossing Penzey's off my list. I sent Bill an email as to why I wouldn't be ordering from him anymore. He replied with berating me and telling me to "grow up". Appalled!!!!

Posted by Kaye on Monday, February 08, 2021 at 10:03 am

Sorry to hear that, Kaye. I guess I should be thankful that all my e-mails over the years have been ignored!

Posted by SursumCorda on Monday, February 08, 2021 at 11:36 am

I to will be joining the spice house! I have not bought from Penzeys since they showed their true colors!! They are the ones that need to grow up!
So sad how they lied cheated and stole this last election! Hopefully the spice house can see the truth!

Posted by JW on Sunday, February 14, 2021 at 7:55 pm

For all I know, the owners of the Spice House are of the same political persuasion as Bill Penzey. Or they may be completely opposite. All I know is that they do not let politics interfere with their customer relations, and for that I am thankful.

Posted by SursumCorda on Sunday, February 14, 2021 at 8:03 pm

I agree with the above posts saying how appalled I was with the liberal rants posted on what should be an objective business site. I’m not interested in his overbearing opinions .
There’s a Penzey’s close to my home that I will not return to - ever.....

Posted by Marian on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 7:47 pm

I stopped buying from Penzeys as well, after Bill said I wasn't welcome in his store because I voted for Trump. In addition, he spouted lies about the words President Trump used--just regurgitating the usual editing of the mainstream media. I will never darken his door, and continue to support his sister's business.

Posted by Connie on Thursday, March 18, 2021 at 9:37 am

I have loved and used Penzey's spices for more years than I can say. I kept purchasing from them, in spite of the hateful emails I kept receiving. After the last election I finally got smart. I have started purchasing from The Spice House, and have been very happy. I still have a couple of Penzey's products that I love and have not figured out how to replace them. I realized I needed to unsubscribe from their emails, since they continued to be hateful even after Trump was out of office. After all, in my book, the only thing worse than a bad looser is a bad winner!

Posted by Phyllis on Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 1:19 pm

I found and fell in love with Penzey's when they opened a store in Santa Rosa. I got on the email list for all the free coupons. And loved their spices. But when I started to get all the hateful emails, and I responded that all I wanted to do was buy spices and not get lectured, that's all he did. So I found the Spice House. Love them. I don't care much about a company's political views, just don't push them on me. I just want to buy spices. So Spice House has a loyal customer now. I won't and haven't done business with Penzey's for quite a while now. And I love the Spice House blends.

Posted by Jean on Thursday, May 06, 2021 at 11:01 pm

I, too, was outraged at the biased and nasty rhetoric which Bill Spouted at Trump supporters and told him how disgusted I was that he had the gall to use the company’s catalog to berate those whose political stance was not agreeable to him.That did not stop him. What a pathetic person he is. I spent thousands at Penzey’s but after that, I never spent a penny at Penzeys. Although the owners of Spice House are related to Penzey they are NOT LIKE THEM AT ALL.

Posted by Carole Weigel on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at 8:19 am

I am the opposite of the others who have commented. I now buy all of my Christmas gifts from Penzy's in addition to what I personally use. I appreciate that Bill Penzy stands up for Progressive values.

Posted by Eilene Stevens on Friday, December 10, 2021 at 9:55 am

Thank you for making your point politely, Eilene.

It would be interesting to know if Penzey's has experienced a net gain or a net loss for his political activism. I still appreciate his spices, but to my mind he has gone beyond standing up for his values well into rudeness, not to mention his terrible treatment of the employees at our local store. I try not to let politics influence my shopping decisions, but character issues like that can drive me away even from excellent products.

Posted by SursumCorda on Friday, December 10, 2021 at 10:45 am

I thought I was sending my humanitarian friends aromatic spices instead my friends got the stench of rotten politics

Posted by PAT on Thursday, December 30, 2021 at 10:36 pm

Penzey's public messaging has become so toxic and vile, that when I received a (very expensive) gift box from a family acquaintance for Christmas, I tossed it in the garbage with the torn up wrapping paper and empty boxes

Posted by Dave on Friday, January 14, 2022 at 5:16 pm

Sursumcorda I do believe it has actually helped the business grow. Sure they lost a lot of customers but they’ve gained so many more, especially people that buy the stuff just because of the message. Then there are the people buying and sending gifts to friends and family intentionally to upset the person receiving it. And there are people doing this.

Posted by Doofus on Saturday, January 15, 2022 at 11:20 am

Sursumcoda from an article somewhere
in the two weeks following his post-election e-mail, the “right wing firestorm” cost the company three per cent of its customers—but that online sales rose nearly sixty per cent in the same period, and gift-box sales increased by more than double that.

Posted by Doofus on Saturday, January 15, 2022 at 11:26 am

When a company puts politics above its customers, it serves neither well.

I'm prepared to believe that there are many people who shop at Penzeys simply to make a political statement, but I'm also skeptical of statements like, "online sales rose nearly sixty per cent." For a long time I put up with the abuse from Bill Penzey because he would periodically offer deals that were so good they had to have lost the company money. These would then be followed by announcements that "Our customers must support our politics; look at our sales!" At that point I realized that I was being used, and decided that the savings in spices wasn't worth the cost.

Posted by SursumCorda on Saturday, January 15, 2022 at 11:45 am

I am not a Republican and did not vote for Trump in 2020 but am offended by this man’s hateful rhetoric. After his post 2016 election rant I switched to Spice House. When i see the Penney’s label i see virtue signaling. The Spice House is great!

Posted by Susan on Tuesday, January 18, 2022 at 8:08 am

I included the following note in a box returning all our Penzey spices:

To Mr Bill Penzey Jr.

January 17, 2022

We are returning these spices to your company.

They have taken on a taste of the bitter root of bigotry.

We can no longer use them in good conscience.

We do not require a refund, but will find spices from more egalitarian companies in the future.

Thanks for revealing your true spirit on MLK day. I doubt that MLK would approve.

Posted by John M on Friday, January 21, 2022 at 6:17 pm
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