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awbrig

The Hot Sauce Topic

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In the staff meal thread, Get In My Belly and others have expressed their devotion to Sriracha sauce, and I've lately suggested my favorite commercial hot sauce, Sambal Oelek. Turns out, both sauces are products of Huy Fong Foods, Inc. We all have favorite hot sauces (see Your Favorite Hot Sauce?), but what I'm interested in in this thread is: What makes a hot sauce commercially sucessful? If you go to Huy Fong's website and click on "Find out about the history of the company and its vision for the future," you can access a page that gives you a somewhat promotional history of the company. Here are some excerpts:

Huy Fong Foods, with its humble beginnings in Los Angeles, California in 1980, has grown to become one of the leaders in the Asian hot sauce market.
The secret of the sauces . . . ? Continued high quality ingredients at low prices and great taste makes it a success in today's trend toward spicy foods.

Is that in fact all it takes to succeed in the hot sauce business? McIlhenny's, the maker of Tabasco Sauce, which I figure is the most famous of all hot sauces, emphasizes selective, artisanal procedures and quality control on its History Tent Perfect Peppers page. In order to get the true flavor of the page, you really have to read the whole thing from beginning to end, but here's the conclusion:

The next pepper crop is ensured by the McIlhennys who personally select the best plants in the field during harvest. The pepper seeds from those select plants are treated and dried and then stored-for use the following year-both on the Island and in a local bank vault as a hedge against any disaster that might befall future crops.

Does such a large company really adhere to such strict quality controls, and is that what accounts for its enduring reputation and market share? Please share your opinions and wisdom here.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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I'm surprised I never posted to this thread. As I've noted elsethread, my favorite all-purpose hot sauce is Sambal Oelek, but the best hot sauces are made in-house.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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This local gentleman in Atlanta has quite a business selling hot sauces he makes ...

Some like it hot: Pain and pleasure in a bottle

Most hot sauces he sells tend to be in the range of about 300,000 to 500,000 Scoville Units, a scientific way of calibrating liquid torture. For comparison, Tabasco sauce has about 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Units.
:shock:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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then why not "TarHeel Pete" ?? no wonder north carolineans are so backwards??   :raz:

?em esucxe

(Greetings from Charlotte. North Carolina.)

i say that with all due respect to the 1 & only ms. kpurvis :wub:

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An enduring reputation and large market share for any company depend on putting out a consistent product, among other factors (perceived value, availability, etc.). Any company that does not adhere to quality control procedures puts out an inconsistent product. Consumers expect consistency, even to some extent in artisanal products (there, variation is acceptable but only within a quite limited range). If the product is inconsistent, or if its variation exceeds the acceptable bounds, the consumer will be disappointed. If the consumer is disappointed too many times (how many is too many depends on the individual), the company loses that consumer as a customer. And it is harder to get a lost customer back than to get a new one who has no idea about the product.

All of the above is general in business, not specific only to hot sauce. Success in hot sauce depends on the expected consistencies of degree of heat and flavor. Both are extremely difficult to maintain because of the natural variation in peppers. So yes, Pan: both Huy Fong and McIllhenny are correct, and ALL companies have to maintain QC.

Don't you have to maintain a certain consistent level of quality in what YOU do??

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actually ive been to the mcelhaney tabasco company and took the tour and yes they do keep to the strict standards quoted in your piece...and even though you cant really verify it for yourself..one must think about all the bad weather that louisiana has gone through over the years with the hurricanes since the company was founded...and then ask yourself if in that time has there ever been any shortage of their tabasco products?


a recipe is merely a suggestion

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I agree with all of the above on the QC and attention to detail. What makes me return to a hot sauce again and again is the flavor. And I do realize that that is very difficult to keep the flavor and especially the heat in hot sauces so when a company that can pull that off deserves all of the success it gets. I do believe that there are instruments that can now measure scovilles so that makes it easier but growing the little devils to end up with consistent heat and flavor takes a lot of attention.

In my memory, Tabasco tastes the same today as I remember it from at least 45 years ago. The new flavors are just as intriguing. They seem to have been able to expand the line without loosing the quest for taste and quality. Pickapeppa is the same deal. Both of those venerable brands also have a unique and distinctive flavor that has stood the test of time. And neither one of those products relies on scorching heat.

I am developing a yen for the Goya Habernero and I just tasted a mango/ginger/habernero from Fischer & Weiser that blows me away. Both of those have managed to capture the unique "warmth" and flavor of haberneros well within my comfort zone.

To sum it up... flavor that I can expect from year to year.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I do believe that there are instruments that can now measure scovilles so that makes it easier but growing the little devils to end up with consistent heat and flavor takes a lot of attention.

I have seen several different research projects at the undergrad level that fairly reliably detect scoville levels, so you're right. It's the growing and the blending that is the key.

But, being a gardener, I like the caprice of nature knowing some years my peppers will burn me out, and others they'll be gentle. Usually they're somewhere in between, so I just need to plant a variety.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Tabasco certainly makes a good product, but I have a feeling a lot if its success is good marketing (but really, good marketing is critical for mega-success of any product). I always keep a bottle of tabasco around, and although it isn't my favorite general purpose hot-sauce, bloody marys just don't quite taste the same without it.

Some hot sauces seem to make their reputation only through extreme heat, and not extreme flavor. All it seems to take there is a fancy label, a reference to painful bowel movements in the name, and people will gobble it up just to keep on a shelf, and never eat.

Some of the extreme hot sauces actually taste very good though, I am a personal fan of Blair's line. A good friend of mine swears by Dave's Insanity, some of which I will have to pick up sometime.

Then there are those which seem to live off of institutional sales. Texas Pete seems to be ubiquitous in Aramark controlled cafeterias, which is fine with me, as Texas Pete is my favorite of the mild hot-sauces on the market.


He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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hmmm...

as mild sauces go: Texas Pete

For bloody marys: Tabasco

For other stuff: I Really can't pick a favorite, I have tons of bottles of hot sauce. I do absolutely love the bottles of Datil Pepper sauce I picked up on my visit to St. Augustine last year. It almost makes it worth another trip to that god-forsaken state just to get more. I also love Blair's sauces, and Marie's Habanero XXX is pretty good.


He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Don't you have to maintain a certain consistent level of quality in what YOU do??

Of course, but I'm an individual, not a large corporation. In order to control my own quality, I don't have to depend on hundreds of employees.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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I always keep a bottle of tabasco around, and although it isn't my favorite general purpose hot-sauce, bloody marys just don't quite taste the same without it.

I think that is some of what I was getting at. Once that unique flavor is achieved, repeatedly, nothing else will do.

I remember back in the late 70s or early 80s when we had a Pickapepper crisis. That was the era when every party had to have that block of cream cheese with the Pickapepper poured over it. I don't remember all of the details but I think what happened was the employees wanted to unionize or something so the owner just shut the place down. Closed it. Walked off. "See ya. I'm going to the beach." I was living in New Orleans at the time so I don't know if this was a local phenom but the phone lines were buzzing. (Pre-internet days, you know.) There was a run on Pickapepper. Folks went out to small stores in the countryside and cleared the shelves. There were ads in the classified section. "Just drove in from Georgia. I have Pickapepper. $5 a bottle." You can only imagine what would have gone on if e-bay had been invented. The drive time talk radio shows kept everyone informed of the labor situation at the Pickapepper plant. The whole thing was just nuts.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I always keep a bottle of tabasco around, and although it isn't my favorite general purpose hot-sauce, bloody marys just don't quite taste the same without it.

I think that is some of what I was getting at. Once that unique flavor is achieved, repeatedly, nothing else will do.

I remember back in the late 70s or early 80s when we had a Pickapepper crisis. That was the era when every party had to have that block of cream cheese with the Pickapepper poured over it. I don't remember all of the details but I think what happened was the employees wanted to unionize or something so the owner just shut the place down. Closed it. Walked off. "See ya. I'm going to the beach." I was living in New Orleans at the time so I don't know if this was a local phenom but the phone lines were buzzing. (Pre-internet days, you know.) There was a run on Pickapepper. Folks went out to small stores in the countryside and cleared the shelves. There were ads in the classified section. "Just drove in from Georgia. I have Pickapepper. $5 a bottle." You can only imagine what would have gone on if e-bay had been invented. The drive time talk radio shows kept everyone informed of the labor situation at the Pickapepper plant. The whole thing was just nuts.

I think that this may have been a New Orleans situation. Where else can you find a city that is, governmentally, such a mess-but can go into hysteria over Jamaican Hot Sauce?

OTOH, on a regular basis, will come home and enjoy some Pickapeppa over a hunk of cream cheese with some decent wheat crackers, or better yet, the king of saltine like crackers-Captains's Wafers. I love that stuff. I know some people (primarily single, middle aged men with large record collections (you know the type) and messy houses, who eat out every meal) whose refrigerators often contain only the following items, as it's good to have a snack around for guests:

Pickapeppa

Cream Cheese

Pickled Okra

Beer (5 or 6 kinds and lots of it)

Old quart of milk

1/2 Pint Half and Half

Open, not sealed bag of CDM

Condiments from chinese takeout

We're talking fine cocktail eating here. It's good to be ready for guests, at all times. :wink:

As far as everyday sauce goes, I am a Crystal man myself. Tabasco is a bit too concentrated and I really like the smooth, vinegary taste of Crystal. I have also, over the last few years, come to enjoy the entire line of products from the nice folks at Panola, way up in the Delta (damn near Arkansas). They make great stuff.

Sriracha sauce is the only thing that will do on noodles, though. I love that stuff, especially the way that it coats the food in a thin layer of fiery pleasure and then proceeds to coat your palate with the same. :laugh:


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Oh yeah... Sriracha is another of my favorites. There is nothing like sriracha on pork rinds. Talk about fusion food. :laugh:

I agree with MM on the Crystal. It has a whole 'nother set of charms.

I have just gone to look. I don't have any cream cheese and... God Forbid... NO PICKAPEPPER! What will I do about lunch? :blink:


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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On every table I sat down at in New Orleans, it seemed like I had my choice of Louisiana, Crystal and Tabasco - and I quite quickly came to grab the Crystal every single time. It's the vinegar. Tabasco's just too much rocket fuel for every day eatin' to my taste buds.

My roommate, OTOH, uses the habenero Tabasco with a fair amount of regularity...


Todd McGillivray

"I still throw a few back, talk a little smack, when I'm feelin' bulletproof..."

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We use a heck of a lot of hot sauce, and own bottles of many.

Generally prefer the milder ones: Crystal, Texas Pete, Louisiana, and yes, Franks.

They have more flavor to me than many of the really hot ones. And no, Tabasco is not a real favorite although I agree it goes very well in Bloody Marys. And will often use it, but more as a hot additive to food rather than for its taste.

Two relatively mild brands we really enjoy are Cholula and Tapatio.

They are certainly more pricy than Texas Pete or Crystal, but have enjoyable tastes.

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Brooks, at the risk of derailing this topic from what makes a hot sauce business successful, what does CDM stand for?


Michael aka "Pan

 

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For Ground Beef or Chicken Home-made Tacos: Pico Pica Hot Sauce

For Carne Asada: Scorned Woman

For Eggs: Jim Beam

For Pizza: Tabasco

For Shrimp & Jambalaya: Cajun Power


"Homer, he's out of control. He gave me a bad review. So my friend put a horse head on the bed. He ate the head and gave it a bad review! True Story." Luigi, The Simpsons

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anyone try any of the blair sauces.. I am expecting an order from mo hotta and got the following.. Anyone like any of these :

1 10019 Blair's "Original" Death Hot Sauce with Skull Key Chain

1 0024 Cackalacky Hot Sauce

1 10071 Dave's Crazy Caribbean

1 2321 Lizano Hot Sauce

1 10136 Marie Sharp's "Fiery Hot" Habanero Sauce

1 0601 Trinidad Pepper Sauce

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I am hooked on Texas Pete and I have been even before I knew it was manufactured right here in my home state of good ol' NC.

It does have more body and character -- though less heat -- than regular Tabasco. It's great for Buffalo wings (the reason I bought it--well, that and the 55c off coupon I had for the stuff) and has replaced Frank's RedHot as my preferred topping for cottage cheese.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Tabasco

Frank,s

Siracha

Myown


"Food is our common ground,a universal experience"

James Beard

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Now that I've made it through the thread:

What's in my cabinet and fridge right now:

--Texas Pete (splash liberally on cottage cheese, yum!)

--Original Tabasco (for Bloody Marys)

--Tabasco Jalapeno (good mixed in scrambled eggs)

--Tabasco Garlic (haven't tried it yet)

--Tabasco Chipotle (try marinating your steak in this)

--Tabasco Habanero (mild for a Habanero sauce; I was able to splash multiple drops of this in a batch of scrambled eggs and not even begin to burn my tongue)

--Tuong Ot Sriracha (the one with the rooster on the label; this really is a versatile, not too spicy sauce that even non-fans will eat)

--Melinda's Habanero XXXtra Hot (more flavor and heat than the Tabasco product, needless to say, but the store I used to get this from no longer stocks it)

--Melinda's Amarillo (good mustard-based sauce)

--Southern Ray's Scotch Bonnet Barbecue Sauce (since I live in a household of heatphobes, I haven't been able to use this one much; it also contains orange peel and honey to balance the heat)

Stuff I've had in the past and would love to get again:

--Inner Beauty (nice sweet heat)

--Pain Is Good Batch #218 (like Southern Ray's, this was a gift from a friend who knew my likes). It has more complex flavors than most Louisiana-style hot sauces, which makes it useful in many more dishes, IMO. Hometown plug: The company that makes Pain Is Good is located on (natch) Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas. Their web site says you can get their sauces there for less than retail or any other web site's price: Original Juan Specialty Foods (makers of Pain is Good)

--Another Bloody Day in Paradise (for Bloody Marys only). This sauce has a hint of Worcestershire and horseradish already in it, which makes it good for Bloody Marys; it was concocted at a bar in Dewey Beach, Delaware, next-door neighbor to Rehoboth Beach, home of Peppers (which I try to visit whenever I vacation there).

--Pickapeppa (this would also make a very good marinade)

Stuff I've had in the past but don't really miss:

--TryMe Tiger Sauce (didn't really live up to its name)

Stuff I'm burnin' to try:

--El Yucateco (had this at Zocalo restaurant)

--Dave's Insanity Sauce (though once again there will be the problem of how to pass this off to my heatphobic partner, roommate and friends)


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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