Filed Under Food

Bertman Ballpark Mustard

They say "a hot dog is only as good as the mustard that goes on it," and who would have known this better than Cleveland's own mustard icon and food purveyor, Joseph Bertman? Bertman Original Park Mustard and the Bertman family name are synonymous with a Cleveland food tradition dating back to the 1920s. Its story is as much about Joseph Bertman the businessman, entrepreneur and humanitarian, as it is about the popular award-winning spicy brown concoction that he created.

Born in Lublin, Poland in 1902, Joseph Bertman was 6 when he immigrated to Cleveland. At only 13 years old, Bertman witnessed his father being shot to death by someone taking target practice at an old boxcar. (Bertman and his father were making deliveries for the family dry cleaning store at the time.) Following his father's death, the young Bertman became the sole support for his mother, four brothers and a sister. To keep the family together, he worked two jobs, seven days a week.

At 19, Bertman quit working for other people and set up his own business in pickle packing. He established Bertman Pickle Company in a little garage on E. 103rd Street. He would rise at 4 a.m. every day to begin peddling his products. In the mid 1930s, he established Joseph Bertman, Inc., a wholesale food business, first located at East 103rd Street and St. Clair Avenue, and then at 2180 East 76th Street. Bertman supplied food products to a variety of institutions, caterers, and ball parks, including League Park and later to Cleveland Municipal Stadium. In the period shortly after World War II, Bertman had exclusive distribution rights to many products. At one point, he was warehousing many items and running 22 trucks and a sales team in order to service his customers. He expanded his sales territory across an area that ran from Pittsburgh to Toledo, handling every type of food. Bertman became so expert in the business of buying foods and finding and importing food products that he began spending more time as a food broker than as a wholesaler. He traveled all over the world, finding crops and locating sources of critical foods and kept permanent apartments in New York and Miami as well as his Cleveland home. From hometown food giants Hector Boiardi (a.k.a. Chef Boyardee) to Vernon Stouffer, Joseph Bertman was a friend and mentor to many renowned people in Cleveland's food industry.

As for "The Good Stuff" that Cleveland Guardians fans have known and loved for generations, the recipe for Bertman Original Ball Park Mustard has remained almost unchanged over the years. The finest vinegar, brown mustard seed and spices are processed in a unique manner and never watered down. Since 1921, when Joseph Bertman invented it from his secret formula, his Original Ball Park Mustard has tantalized taste buds at Euclid Beach, League Park, the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, and now at Progressive Field, too.


A Young Joseph Bertman Paul Mazoh, grandson of Joseph Bertman, describes his grandfather's early years. Source: Courtesy of Gail Greenberg and Diane Rolfe
The Pickle King Paul Mazoh, the grandson of Joseph Bertman, talks about how Bertman became the "Pickle King" of Cleveland. Source: Courtesy of Gail Greenberg and Diane Rolfe
Mustard Beginnings Paul Mazzoh explains how mustard became a part of his grandfather's business. Source: Courtesy of Gail Greenberg and Diane Rolfe
The Grapefruit Gimmick Paul Mazzoh describes one of his grandfather's great sales gimmicks. Source: Courtesy of Gail Greenberg and Diane Rolfe
2000 Radio Ad The crack of a bat, the roar of the crowd and Bertman's Original Ball Park Mustard start another season at Jacob's Field. Source: Audio courtesy of Western Reserve Historical Society


"Don't Be Confused!"
"Don't Be Confused!" This Bertman Mustard ad emphasizes that there's only one original Ball Park Mustard. Such a reminder became necessary when a former employee of Bertman's started producing his own "Ball Park Mustard" for sale in Cleveland's supermarkets. Source: Western Reserve Historical Society
The Legendary Ballpark Mustard
The Legendary Ballpark Mustard Bertman's Mustard comes in many different shapes and sizes, for the traditionalist or a picnic. Source: Western Reserve Historical Society
Product List
Product List This sign of unknown date lists the wide assortment of food items offered by Joseph Bertman at his East 76th Street location. Source: Western Reserve Historical Society
Joseph Bertman
Joseph Bertman Joseph Bertman, the founder of the Bertman food company, seated at his desk. Source: Paul Mazoh Date: ca. 1960s
Pat Mazoh
Pat Mazoh Joseph Bertman's daughter Pat Mazoh became president of Bertman Mustard after her father retired. Source: Western Reserve Historical Society
Bertman Products Building
Bertman Products Building This is a view of a sign on the outside of the Bertman Products building (prior to demolition) at 2180 East 76th Street, between Cedar and Central Avenues. The company's facilities are now located at 7777 Grand Avenue in Cleveland. Source: Paul Mazoh Date: ca. 1970s
Bertman's Ad
Bertman's Ad Bertman's Mustard advertisement from a Lake County Captains program. Throughout its history, Bertman's has sold mustard to baseball stadiums across the Cleveland area. Most famously, its mustard has been served in all three of the stadiums at which the Cleveland Indians/Guardians have played over the years. Source: Western Reserve Historical Society Date: ca. 2003


7777 Grand Ave, Cleveland, OH 44104


Gail Greenberg and Diane Rolfe, “Bertman Ballpark Mustard,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 13, 2024,