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Hot Sauce is…Uh, Hot

Hot Sauce is…Uh, Hot

I felt like I knew this some years ago when I stumbled upon an all hot sauce store in Los Angeles, selling nothing but little 4-oz glass bottles of hot sauce, but the sale and marketing of hot sauce is exceptionally trendy (or hot) right now. Of all the growing industries in the United States right now, hot sauce production is right up there with for-profit universities and generic pharmaceuticals according to IBIS World’s List of the 10 Fastest Growing Industries in America. While starting up your own university and manufacturing cut-rate pharmaceuticals can be fun, it’s not really something you would want to do from the comfort of your own garage. So hot sauce seems like a natural culinary gold mine for those with a sacred family recipe and a high tolerance for itchy eyes.

Reporter Matthew Yglesias commented on the finding saying, “Hot sauce is, obviously, the future of the American economy. That’s because capsaicin, the molecule that makes hot sauce so ‘hot,’ is basically like heroin.” The presumption is that people who eat a great deal of spicy capsaicin-rich foods (like hot sauce) eventually build up a tolerance to its more fiery properties. And as everyone knows, a small shock of spice on the tongue excites the nervous system into producing endorphins, which promote a general sense of well being, especially when washed down with a cold beer.

You don’t have to go far to see the mind-numbing variety of hot sauces available. Many supermarkets are well stocked in national (and sometimes local) brands of hot sauce in every stripe. Or if you are disinclined to leave your house, there are countless e-commerce websites that peddle in the hot stuff. And for the truly intrepid, you could just make your own and join the ranks of hot sauce entrepreneurs.

Is hot sauce an essential in your life? Do you have a favorite brand/flavor of hot sauce? The more elaborate the better, or do you favor the simplicity of something like Tabasco?

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


+ add your own
4:30PM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

i love anything spicy!

7:05PM PDT on May 7, 2012


9:13PM PDT on May 2, 2012

In the southwest salsa is ubiquitous, and local restaurants do a great job with their own recipes.

6:47AM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

Isn't it strange how quickly an ingredient can go from something completely unknown to a necessity? I've always loved cheese on toast but now it seems rather bland without the chilli hit.

7:58AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

I always make my own, many different kinds.
Well-dried hot peppers stored in a bottle of olive oil give you really great tasting olive oil for cooking or anything else. Peppers stored in whiskey or sherry make a great hot liquid for adding to sauces, soups or stews.

And I make a ton of Portuguese piri-piri sauce using fresh lemon leaves, hot chilies, whiskey, salt and sometimes lemon juice as well. I grow my own hot peppers and lemons, so I never have to worry about pesticides. Funnily enough, the birds love them - they aren't affected by the heat at all - neither am I!

4:16PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012


9:59AM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

good article thanks for sharing

6:40AM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

We love hot sauce..good article...

11:21PM PDT on Apr 25, 2012

Thank you!

4:16PM PDT on Apr 25, 2012


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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