They say that necessity is the mother of invention.
But how many people can point to their own heart attack and stroke as the inspiration for their ingenuity?
That’s how Carolina Bob’s No Salt Grillin’ Dry Rub came to be, though.
After suffering a heart attack and stroke two years ago, Robert Hoefer Jr. decided to expand his line of spice rubs to include a salt-free variety for people like him who love barbecue but need to reduce their salt intake.
“I had just launched the Carolina Bob’s brand before the heart attack and I thought, ‘Now I can’t even enjoy it,’” Hoefer told the Greenville Journal.
“But then I thought, ‘Wow! There’s a need for a salt-free version.’”
Hoefer, a Greenville vocal coach who owns Pitch Doctors Vocal Studio, was working out in the spring of 2019 when he started getting lightheaded and short of breath. Then he began feeling pain in his arm.
By the time he got to the hospital, he was having a heart attack, he said. A few weeks later, as he was putting on his watch, he was unable to speak. His family called 911.
“I had to go back to the hospital because I was having a stroke,” he recalls. “I said, ‘Lord, just let me be around a little while longer.’”
After recovering, Hoefer, now 63, joined Prisma Health’s HeartLife program, a 12-week cardiac rehab that includes monitored exercise, nutrition counseling and psychological support for patients who’ve had bypass surgery, stents or other heart-related conditions, according to its medical director Dr. Andrea Bryan.
Cardiac rehab helps patients recover by getting the heart back into shape and reducing inflammation and stress, she said, adding that it cuts the chances of another heart attack or hospital intervention by 25-30%.
“His biggest achievement is the change he made in his lifestyle, overall,” Bryan said, adding that Hoefer’s salt-free seasoning is just icing on the cake.
The father of two said he could barely walk up the stairs after his hospitalization.
“I had to stop in the middle to catch my breath,” he said. “I could not even lift five pounds.”
But today while he still has some residual tingling in his left hand and foot, he said he’s back to all his activities and works out four to five times a week.
Hoefer said the idea to create his own spice rub came to him more than 30 years ago after relishing the fare at a friend’s backyard barbecue. So he started to experiment on recipes of his own.
“I improvised and tweaked it and messed up a lot of barbecue,” he says with a chuckle. “It took years to get the right balance of ingredients but I finally got a eureka moment.”
Carolina Bob’s was born.
After his health scares, Hoefer embarked on a healthier alternative that led to the development of Carolina Bob’s No Salt Grillin’ Dry Rub and All-Purpose Seasoning.
“The first round was a bit spicey,” he said. “But we listened to the consumer and took out some of the pepper because everybody cannot tolerate the heat.”
Currently, Carolina Bob’s salt-free version is sold at several Food Lion stores, The Cook’s Station in Greenville and online at carolinabobsgrillin.squarespace.com, Hoefer said.
“We use it on everything – barbecue, asparagus, broccoli, fish, poultry, zucchini,” he says. “Everything outside of grits.”
For more, go to carolinabobsgrillin.com.
- Heart disease kills about 655,000 Americans every year – or one person every 36 seconds.
- About 805,000 Americans have a heart attack each year.
- Coronary artery disease, which decreases blood flow to the heart, is the most common type of heart disease, afflicting about 18.2 million adults.
- Heart disease cost the nation about $219 billion each year from 2014 to 2015, including health care services, medicines and lost productivity.