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Emz Jamz

"If there is one place where this idea could work, it’s Austin,” admits Emily Burgess, founder of artisan food company EMZ JAMZ.

Burgess creates small batches of jams, chutneys and spreads, cheekily named after cultural music icons. The nine-month-old company sources only local ingredients for its sweet and savory concoctions. “I wanted to do something fun and meaningful while making a delicious, local product,” explains Burgess. “Music and lyrics have always been a universally treasured means of communication.”

After graduating from UT Austin, the Texas native followed a journalism degree to New York City where she worked for high-profile media companies like The New Yorker and Freud Communications. Her successful career brought her to the U.K., where she developed a love affair with the romantic tradition of high tea, scones and what else? Jam.

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“I remember blanching peaches with my grandmother for peach and apricot jam,” she says. “There were always mason jars at the ready.” Burgess began to play around with the multiple meanings of the word jam, in terms of both sweet spreads and catchy beats. The homonym provided a quirky context for her growing mental list of jukebox-inspired jams, like Strawberry Manilow and Sonny & Pear, and when the wordsmith returned to Austin, EMZ JAMZ was born.

Burgess considers Texas and its generous offering of local ingredients the perfect location for making jam. She can decidedly name the source of each item on her jars’ ingredient list: Jelly Nelson features Pink Lady apples from Sonlight Apple Orchard in Mason, her peaches are picked on the Jenschke Orchards in Fredericksburg, and for the tomatoes in Tomato Petty & the Heartbreakers, she looks to Springdale Farm in East Austin.

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Austin specifically is a uniquely idyllic locale because of its musical pulse. For instance, to celebrate Loretta Lynn’s recent visit, she will produce a limited edition lemon marmalade, aptly coined, Loretta Lemon. There’s a sense of nostalgia surrounding Burgess’ jams, as she opts for the influence of musical legends versus trendy Top 40 artists. Her favorite part of this process is seeing her jams connect with people on a sentimental level, evoking a memory or treasured experience. As she puts it, “There’s a lot of hard things in the world, maybe this can be something a little sweeter.”


Photographs by Knoxy Knox


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