When I first began thinking about an image to represent JuicyMelt Supreme I had no idea what I wanted. I received some great advice that this would be an excellent area to spend some money. I took it. Having the outside of your packaging tight is easily just as important as what’s inside. If the labeling isn’t great people may never even try your products. And if they do try it and the design is not good they will psychologically infer the bias to the flavor of your goods. Things with generic or hokey labels don’t taste as good as things with great packaging for some consumers. This fact is why marketing works, I guess. People drink and eat with their eyes first. If it doesn’t look appealing it gets a lower rating before it even hits the sniffer or the tongue. I’m thankful I knew this going in and so I began thinking about a graphic design person to hire and what in the world I would tell them I wanted?

I had a history of looking closely at beer labels and now I was applying this perception to hot sauce packaging. There are a lot of great ones out there. There are a lot of really bad ones out there. The whole concept of punishing people with heat or blowing up the bathroom toilet was not where I was coming from. In fact it’s the total opposite of what I thought I wanted to convey. Quick rant – this type of joke label is why I think hot sauce isn’t readily referenced in foodie circles. And maybe that’s what the ol’ grandaddies want. A sort of man’s man backwoods authenticity that is more important than flavor you can pick apart or exploit to enhance the overall dish. Either way, I was definitely going down the path of the more positive companies I’ve seen out there. And I’m not currently interested in the Scoville arms race.

I put pen to paper and listed things that I both liked and thought should influence the design. It included movies, writers and directors, artists, skateboarding, psychedelia and music. I’ve always been heavily influenced by the original Willy Wonka with Gene Wilder so I took a lot of influence from his dialogue and mannerisms. Our personal motto for creativity is best captured in a scene from the 1971 film. While tasting a lick-able wallpaper consisting of imagined flavors and fruits Wonka is asked by Veruca Salt, “whoever heard of a snozzberry?” to which he aptly replies, “We are the music makers… and we are the dreamers of dreams.” At Juicymelt Supreme we believe that creativity and experimentation combined with discipline and effort is the path to enlightenment and great hot sauce.

So when I gave this hodge-podge of what I felt defined our style to the designer Gregory Tobias with no definite direction he must have thought I was… well, who knows? I never asked him. Truth is, the only thing I wanted to be sure of was that I wasn’t difficult to work with. Art can open like a fast current in a river and I didn’t want to get swept away with details about ideas. You start to run in circles with a bunch of back and forth and it can be frustrating. I have been through logo designs before and it doesn’t take much to spend a ton of time on an idea that never sits in the light of day. I hung back and let him have some time to generate a few base ideas. Groundwork. And for that while he steered while I enjoyed the changing views of his work.

Stay tuned for part two next week please

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Jeffrey McElfresh

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

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