I’m having a great time at our booth watching the reactions to our hot sauce samples. Almost everyone understands the flavor profiles and gives us great feedback and I love it when they do, but what I’m talking about is the HEAT. Lots of folks have a very personal relationship to spicy and know their boundaries. Lots of folks have been burned before and they remember the experience. I know I do.  I love people and I especially enjoy them having a new experience while I stand across the table and blather about flavor profiles and avoiding things like the pithy pitfalls of grapefruit. And I knew everyone’s palate was different – but it is glaringly clear with spice. I mean, who doesn’t want a few moments of burning while endorphins wash over your brain to convince you everything is actually just fine? Well, some folks. I guess.

And yet, almost everyone starts with the hottest sauce I have. Some try the tiniest drip of sauce on the biggest chip they can dig out of the bowl while others grab the squeeze bottle and shoot sauce straight into their mouths. (Side note – please don’t squirt the bottles at your face. It’s kinda gross and seriously, we don’t offer safety glasses.) I even had one person pour OG Catalyst into their coffee. A few drops in a margarita is great, but coffee? To each their own as the ol’ saying goes.

Of course I see the macho effect but not nearly as often as one would think.

I believe way more people like spicy than not and out of the group that do most have nothing to prove and sincerely want to elevate their food. I meet a lot of people that workout regularly and are looking for healthy and tasty ways to improve their clean eating. I know a lot of vegans that know their way around the block, the tofu block that is, and they want something to spice it up with while bringing new flavors into their meals.

People are drawn in when they see I have hot sauce. They want to come over to the table. They elbow their spouse or friend or just some stranger within striking distance as they purse their lips, exhaling they begin mumbling softly about this or that and I can tell they’re already committed to curiosity and what they may get themselves into. It brings me such joy to see.

I’m also learning about people that are timid, shy or just don’t like to start a conversation. I’m learning about people that are terrified to even look at your booth as they pass because they carry the guilt of non-interest. I’m learning about what drives people to shop local and what they define as community. And I’m learning about heat and spice and what people really want to eat so that I can continue to produce the best hot sauces I can. I think that’s pretty cool and I hope I get to keep learning.

Thanks for reading,


Main photo credit goes to Tom Gilliam

Jeffrey McElfresh

Jeffrey McElfresh is a co-owner and founder of JuicyMelt Supreme Hot Sauce.
Jeffrey McElfresh

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