Hot Pepper Dudes, LLC


Introduction to Starting Your Own Hot Sauce Company

I didn’t know anything about how to start a hot sauce company a little over a year ago.  What I did know was creating tasty sauces that everyone seemed to enjoy, so I figured I’d look into getting the product professionally bottled.  While searching for tips online about how to do this, I couldn’t find any start to finish articles, ebooks, or even traditional print media that described this process entirely so it took a bit of time to figure it all out.  What I’m hoping to accomplish with this blog over time is to provide aspiring sauce-makers with the information they need to get started more quickly than what I was able.  This will all be based upon my experiences, so there are certainly other approaches that could work as well.

If you are reading this, you are likely to have a recipe for a sauce or other specialty food product that everyone loves or you wouldn’t even be thinking about starting it up as a company.  The very first question you need to ask yourself is if the market really needs another hot sauce, BBQ sauce, or whatever other product you are looking to bottle.  I’d say if your product is unique, then the answer is yes.  People that enjoy these types of products are often adventurous and like to try new things.  They’ll have a “go to” sauce they use everyday but will generally be interested in trying new things.

Some questions I think you need to ask yourself before deciding that you want to start your own hot sauce company:

  • What makes my product unique?
  • Is there anything else on the market today that is so close to mine that it would be difficult to tell them apart?
  • Would my family and friends who have tried my sample batches be willing to buy the product moving forward?  (You may never actually ask them to pay for it, but helps you gauge marketability)
  • Am I willing to commit cash to getting this off the ground?
  • Understanding that this will not replace my day job in the near term, am I willing/able to commit my time on nights and weekends to work on this?
  • Will my spouse/significant other support the time and money investment?

If you’ve worked through all those questions and the answers support starting the business, then you are likely in good shape.  In reality, those are the same basic questions you’d have to ask yourself before starting any small business.  Also, you may just be considering this as a hobby in which case you wouldn’t need to be as stringent.  Just keep in mind that when you have something professionally bottled, you will end up with a lot of product!

In the next entry I’ll talk about getting your recipe ready so that you will have what you need to speak with a bottler.

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Hot Pepper Dudes, LLC Wins 2011 Fiery Food Challenge!
February 18, 2011, 1:02 pm
Filed under: Press Releases | Tags: , , , , , ,

 

Hot Pepper Dudes, LLC has been awarded the Golden Chile for Hot Sauce – Pepper Blend in the 2011 Fiery Food Challenge for Fire Out the Hole!  Additionally, the company takes third place for Barbeque Sauce – Mustard Base Ghost of Carolina!

Tampa, FL – 2/5/11 

On January 28, 2011, the most prestigious awards in the spicy food industry were distributed at the Fiery Food Challenge Awards dinner in Irving, Texas, and Hot Pepper Dudes, LLC came out on top!  Fire Out the Hole! and Ghost of Carolina took home First Place and Third Place, respectively, in their categories.

 The Fiery Food Challenge, a competition sponsored by The Dallas Morning News, pits products against one another in more than 100 categories. Professional judges evaluate hundreds of sauces, salsas and other spicy treats and award first, second and third place prizes in each category. Awards are proudly displayed at ZestFest, a spicy, zesty and flavorful food event held the same week as the Fiery Food Challenge at the brand new Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas.

Being new on the market (just released in August, 2010) this is the first competition into which the sauces have been entered.

Chris Billet, Chief Sauce Officer, said “This is really quite an honor and I’m very excited to have won awards for both our sauces!  Being a brand new company, it’s great to see that the judges like our products as much as we do!” 

Go to our website: www.hotpepperdudes.com for more information on our award-winning products. You may also contact us at: chris@hotpepperdudes.com for more information.

For more information on the Fiery Food Challenge and ZestFest, visit www.zestfest2011.com or contact Pamela Betz at pambetz@aol.com or 407-876-4467.

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About Us
February 18, 2011, 10:41 am
Filed under: About | Tags: , , , , ,

We formed Hot Pepper Dudes, LLC as a company in 2010 but the ideas and experimentation started more than a decade earlier.  I (Chris Billet) have been experimenting with growing hot peppers, making hot sauces, and other methodes of preserving peppers since 1999.  It really started as a hobby since I couldn’t find anything other than jalpenos and habaneros in the grocery stores or farmer’s markets.  I stubled across a place online (pepperjoe.com) that carries tons of different organic hot pepper seeds, so I decided to start growing my own.  I’ve been so pleased with the quality of the seeds that I still order from Pepper Joe today.

I had never really gardened a whole lot, so as you may imagine it took some trial and error to get the results that I wanted out of growing the hot peppers.  Experimentation and research provided enough help that I was soon growing 10 – 12 different plants per season and getting a good amount of peppers from each plant.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s really quite simple.  Also, I’ve found that growing them in containers is actually easier (no weeds to pull) and produces good results.  Figuring all this stuff out inspired me to start a web site that would help (hopefully) other people get started with growing their own hot peppers.

 So now I’m growing hot peppers…and I end up with a ton of them, more than I can possibly eat before they would go bad.  Not wanting my prize crop to go to waste, I learned how to pickle and “can” them in mason jars.  Also, this is where I started making my own hot sauce.  I found a very basic recipe and then started experimenting from there.  I added the processing tips to the web site once I figured them out.  Every year I kept trying out new concoctions for hot sauces and I still enjoy doing that today.

In 2008, my day job resulted in a relocation to Tampa, FL.  This was also the first year that I was able to get Ghost Pepper (aka Bhut Jolokia) seeds.  I had been reading quite a bit about them as they are a native pepper to India and are said to be the hottest pepper in the world, coming in somewhere around 1,000,000 Scoville units (about 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce).  Well, of course I had to make a hot sauce with these peppers and after a few different variations I hit on a combination that everyone absolutely loved.

Around this time I had also met Jeff Toothman who shared a similar love for all things spicy and cooking in general.  We decided to team up and start the company and get our first two sauces bottle for commercial sale.  It’s been a blast so far.  The third hot pepper dude is a long time friend from Pennsylvania, John French.  He enjoyed the sauces so much that he’s now running the Northeast branch of the business.

So why the blog?  It was extremely difficult to figure out how to go about getting our sauces bottled and brought to market.  I couldn’t find a single place online that laid out the steps and provided guidance, so I had to figure most of it out by piecing things together.  As with growing the hot peppers, I think others may find the information useful so I’m going to post entries over time that describe how we went about it.

There’s quite a bit of information, so I’ll try to lay it out in a chapter format.  This will be entirely based upon our experience.  Hope it will help some aspiring chili heads to get their products to market too!