Back 9 Dips: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

Many products and businesses are born from hardship, and the story of Back 9 Dips is no different. Couple David and Dominique Mealy met when David moved down to Tampa, Florida to work for prominent golf companies. During an economic downturn, David lost his job while Dominique was eight months pregnant, and the couple put their heads together to come up with a way they could save themselves financially.

Though David's career in the golf industry came to an end, he gave the sport a nod with the name of the couple's new venture — Back 9 Catering. David had previously wanted to be a chef and decided to give this new career a try by making barbecue. It was during this time that they developed a chicken dip which always received rave reviews from their customers. They teamed up with a Tampa radio personality named Bubba the Love Sponge and started selling Bubba's Chicken Dip under the brand Back 9 Dips. The Mealys needed support from the Sharks to scale up production of this new product and broaden distribution.

Did the Sharks take a (chicken) dip?

The Mealys appeared in Season 4, Episode 4 of "Shark Tank," which aired in October 2012. The pair asked for $150,000 in exchange for a 15% stake in their company. They pitched Back 9 Dips as a combination of two of the most popular sports-watching snacks — chicken wings and chips and dip.

Though Daymond John called the fine-textured mixture a "chicken Slurpee," Lori Greiner said it was "delicious" (via YouTube). The Mealys kept their cool while the Sharks joked about blended chicken. Kevin O'Leary asked about numbers, and David shared that within two years of bringing their dips to retail, they sold around $400,000 and had close to 400 accounts. In a demonstration of the popularity of their product, Back 9 Dips was hitting the weekly sales target on a daily basis at a major Florida supermarket.

When it came time to make deals, Lori Greiner and Mark Cuban bowed out despite loving the product because they didn't feel they were the right investors to make Back 9 Dips successful. O'Leary and Herjavec also decided not to invest. As John debated whether or not to take a bite, Greiner said she'd like to come back into the game and partner with John. Despite having a connection to the entrepreneurs' story, John decided not to take a chance. Herjavec too made a reversal and came back in to join Greiner for $150,000 in exchange for 25%. The emotional Mealys accepted.

What happened to Back 9 Dips after appearing on Shark Tank?

Things looked promising for Back 9 Dips because the product was tasty, the founders were committed, and the dips were already performing well at stores. The Back 9 dip line was successfully positioned as a premium product retailing for around $8 to $9 dollars per pound and wholesaling for $5.25. Those are handsome margins when the cost of production is only $2.52 per pound.

Back 9 offered three different chicken dip flavors under Bubba's brand — Southern Sweet Heat, Buffalo Blue Cheese, and Buffalo. David Mealy attributed the company's success in large part to the high-quality ingredients. For the buffalo chicken dip, one of the first ingredients on the list was chicken breast. The dip also included cayenne pepper-based buffalo wing sauce, ranch dressing, and cream cheese. Back 9 had Bubba's Chicken Dips in many stores including Publix, Walmart, Safeway, Sam's Club, and Walgreens.

Did Back 9 Dips stay in business?

Unfortunately, Back 9 Dips hit a roadblock they simply could not overcome. In June 2013, the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a recall for 12,560 pounds of Bubba's Buffalo Blue Cheese Chicken Dip (per the FDA). The mixture contained anchovies — a common allergen — as an ingredient, but it was not listed properly on the label. The dips were sold online and in person at retailers in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio. The mistake was traced back to a new dressing containing anchovies being used in the chicken dip at the Florida production plant ECRS, LLC. It is unclear whether or not the founders were aware of the change. Fortunately, there were no deaths or illnesses linked to the Back 9 Dips product.

The last post on the Bubba Chicken Dip feed on X, formerly known as Twitter, was made on April 4, 2014. The Back 9 Dips website is no longer active.