A year and a day ago, in last year’s December Craft Hot Sauce newsletter, we reflected on a big decade for the hot sauce industry. A year later, it feels like another decade has already passed!
While 2020 is a year many would like to leave behind, it's worth looking back and reflecting on it because the craft hot sauce world has grown and changed a ton!
Starting off 2020
So many people started the year excited for 2020. The craft hot sauce movement was evident as more hot sauce companies were starting up across the world, reminiscent of the growth of craft beer in the early 2010’s.
I was gearing up and excited to represent Craic Sauce at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo in April. I think most people vividly remember the days around the lockdown announcements, and after a week or two, it became evident that the pandemic and lockdowns would affect nearly every person and industry.
The shift to home cooking
So while I tried to stay sane and break up my days, I, like many, turned to cooking. Each week I enjoyed honing my skills and experimenting with recipes, and crossing over my cooking with hot sauce. My favorite experiment was brining a chicken from a local regenerative poultry farm with different fermented Craic Sauce hot sauce brines and mashes. The roasted chicken and root veggies would come so out juicy with deep flavors from the fermented mash.
In the first couple of months of the pandemic, it was interesting to see how our craftHotSauce.com traffic increased, especially our recipe section (which increased by 40%), as people looked for ways to add more flavor and excitement to their meals. People were turning to the small-batch hot sauce, whether it was to add interesting spicy flavors to gourmet meals or adding a kick and twang to a frozen pizza or cup of ramen.
Pivots and new hot sauce making hobbies
As the pandemic continued into the late spring I began meeting people through our newsletter that had some extra time on their hands and were interested in making hot sauce as a hobby or a potential side business.
I also noticed hot sauce companies using their creativity and skills to make pivots, like Matt from Hoss Soss in Salem, Oregon who has been hosting Zoom cooking classes. And with people spending more time in their yards, I heard from many people that started a garden and were growing peppers for the first time.
During the beginning of the summer, events in the US amplified the importance and fight for equality through movements like #blacklivesmatter and #metoo. Consumers saw brands voice their opinions and support these movements publicly like we haven’t seen before.
At Craft Hot Sauce, we wanted to provide a platform and listen and learn from black and women-owned hot sauce companies. This summer we heard from black-owned hot sauce companies Kyvan Foods, River City Flame, and Big Red’s on the Craft Hot Sauce podcast and we also shared inspiring stories and delicious hot sauces through our Female Founded Flavors Box.
Small business support
During the pandemic, support for local and small businesses was crucial, as many struggled with their future. While there is still a lot of uncertainty and questions out there, I see the craft hot sauce community growing in passion and support for each other. And the reach is extending fast, especially within the past couple months!
Hot sauce outlook
We saw Dunkin’ Donuts release a Ghost pepper donut. One of the most popular shows on Netflix, We Are the Champions, documents a bunch of spicy competitive eaters battle in a Chili Eating Competition, put on by the one and only Smokin’ Ed Currie. And on the market potential side, we saw one of my favorite hot sauces growing up, Cholula, sell for $800 million dollars!
It’s going to be a wild ride ahead, but I’m looking forward to documenting it and seeing how it evolves. Do you have any 2020 hot sauce related reflections? Sending you good thoughts and tidings to wrap up 2020 and thank you for being a part of a crazy 2020!
Also, if you know another hot sauce lover in your life, feel free to forward our newsletter on. Thanks!
Founder - Craft Hot Sauce & Craic Sauce
P.S. We have a new Craft Hot Sauce Story from Eyal at Fat Cat Gourmet Hot Sauce and a few of our favorites from this past year. Keep an eye out for an email next week when we add over 100 new hot sauces to the website!
My mother is South American and my father is from the Middle East, and dinner at our house while I was growing up often involved a number of table condiments both spicy and not. For example, my father introduced me to schug (pronounced “skoog”) at a young age, which is a thick paste of chili, cumin, thyme, sumac and olive oil that is often lightly smeared on bread...
In the last edition of the 2020 Craft Hot Sauce Subscription Box, we have a well-balanced trio of hot sauces that are bursting at the seams with flavor. Check out the December Craft Hot Sauce Box or select to pre-pay for the 2021 Craft Hot Sauce Boxes.
This summer we put together a list of 32 brick and mortar shops that have an awesome selection of craft sauces. While we may not be jetting off to Edinburgh to buy hot sauce right now, you can start planning your travel to these hot sauce destinations now!
For those looking to get schooled up on cooking hot sauce or salsa, make sure you tune in to my conversation with Mikey V, owner and creator of Mikey V's Food. He actually just published a hot sauce recipe book with 60 recipes hot sauce makers need to try!
A year after I started Craft Hot Sauce in 2014, I thought of quitting my day job to backpack and create a documentary about craft hot sauce while traveling the world. I didn't do that... but I still love hearing about travel experiences. Alan from Sacred Sauce is well-traveled and was an inspirational guest on the Craft Hot Sauce Podcast. Tune in here.
If you’re outside of St. John’s County in Florida, you’ve likely never heard of the Datil Pepper. If you’re a lover of hot sauce though, we want the opportunity to change that! In order for you to fully appreciate the little yellow lanterns, you’ll need to know their unique history.
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I wanted your first note of the year to come from the hot sauce part of your life. Happy New Year! I hope you’re in good health and I’m counting on 2022 being a great year ahead.
I’m here to share a recent conversation I had, which is now on the Craft Hot Sauce Podcast. Sometimes when I write this newsletter or market a hot sauce, it’s not my most natural channel of communication. The podcast has grown to be my favorite way of connecting with the wider craft hot sauce community and sharing those experiences with you.
Hope you’re enjoying your week as we ease into the winter months. In the past couple of newsletters I’ve described the hustle and bustle of the chili pepper harvest season. I feel like the mania that built up during summer peaked a couple weeks ago at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo.
The event was everything we hoped for with lots of engagement with hot sauce enthusiasts and makers. We gave out more samples of Craic Sauce over a two day period than ever before, receiving lots of positive feedback, especially with our Brian Boru’s Curry sauce.