With summer finally upon us, America’s collective thoughts turn towards all things fun under the sun – lazy days at the beach, pool parties, backyard barbeques, the Fourth of July… you get the picture.
But for a season that’s all about going as bare as you dare, summer is also about eating. From Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend, the familiar aroma of food grilling in the open air permeates blues skies from coast to coast. And where there’s food, there’s bound to be hot sauce, right?
Far beyond classics like Tabasco and Frank’s RedHot, the hot sauce market has exploded, posting an estimated 9 percent sales gain in 2012, generating $540 million in the U.S. alone, driving the overall American sauce category to new financial heights.
As the sauce market expands and becomes even more lucrative, rock stars looking to diversify their means of income are crashing the world of boutique and branded sauce products. While classic rockers likeJoe Perry of Aerosmith and former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony were quick to jump into the music celebrity sauce game, over time more modern artists like The Offspring‘s Dexter Holland, who created Gringo Bandito, have ventured into the world of rock and roll sauces with resounding success.
“We’ve been growing every year. From the moment that he started selling it, [Holland's] ambition was to become the next Cholula. He wants it to be the In-N-Out of hot sauces,” Matt McCollum, VP of sales and marketing for Gringo Bandito, recently told Radio.com.
Holland launched his hot sauce back in 2007 after record sales took a dip due to illegal piracy (“You can’t download hot sauce,” quipped McCollum). Now available in a wide range of supermarket chains and restaurants around the world, the company sold more than one million units in 2012 alone.
“It’s a tough industry,” McCollum says, warning other artists looking to take a bite out of the hot sauce market. “It costs money just to get on shelves of a lot of stores. You can make a smaller batch and sell it for a higher price on a website, but it won’t survive on a supermarket shelf. We’re trying to make it a little more mainstream and user-friendly.”
There are some bands that make it work, though. Check out our list of five of the best rock hot sauces on the market right now.
“It’s like a party in your mouth,” says founder Dexter Holland on the Gringo Bandito website, which directs visitors to the many outlets his “not-so-famous pepper sauce” is sold (including supermarket chains Stater Bros. and Ralphs). The eye-catching bottle features Holland in full Bandito regalia, and boasts testimonials from music producer Dr. Luke and Warren Fitzgerald of the Vandals.
TheSan Diego screamo rockers just released the Cajun habanero hot sauce this past April; it’s the band’s third hot sauce, following their Diablo Verde (a garlic Serrano sauce) and En Fuego hot sauces. “We all consider ourselves to be hot sauce connoisseurs, and when label came to us and said, ‘Do you want to make some hot sauces?’ We thought it was a great idea,” the band’s bassist Jaime Preciado toldThe Edge. “We just love hot sauce!
The legendary D.C. hardcore band Bad Brains got into the hot sauce game as a unique way to help relaunch the band’s website earlier this year. “It’s a straight sauce to be put on anything you like hot sauce on,” bassist Darryl Jenifer told MTV Hive. “It’s not a particular jerk sauce or anything. It’s a little mild. We made it for people who like hot sauce and don’t want to get their face burned off.” The bottles have an added cool factor, thanks to an explosive label designed by famed OBEY artist Shepard Fairey.
The man known as Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein made his name playing guitar for horror punk pioneers the Misfits, and is now behind a namesake hot sauce, appropriately called Made in Hell. The sauce is made in conjunction with the Halloween Hot Sauce company, who sell some of their sauces in miniature coffins. When asked what food his sauce tastes best with, Doyle told Good Tunes is Good Tunessimply, “on eggs.”
This Dallas pop-punk outfit is one of the most recent bands to launch a sauce, debuting J.A.C.K.’s Spicy Whiskey BBQ, to coincide with the release of their latest album of the same name (J.A.C.K.). The guys were so excited about it that they released a video just to announce what they say will be “forever the sickest sauce in your kitchen.”
- Scott T. Sterling, Radio.com