I’m a freelance writer in Northampton, Massachusetts, and I’m working on a general-interest piece for a regional publication here about hot sauce. Here are my questions:
1. When did this maniacal competition begin among hot sauce manufacturers?
2. How much money is generated each year in hot sauce sales?
3. What’s the estimated population of hot sauce consumers nationwide?
4. And, perhaps most importantly, why, in your opinion, is hot sauce so darn popular?
Thank you, Dave. I love your Web site.
For the History of Hot Sauces, see here
To answer your questions:
1. The boom in hot sauces started in the late ’80s and really exploded during the ’90s. There has been a lot of consolidation in the Industry during the late ’90s and early ’00s, but new hot sauce companies are still springing up.
2. Hot sauce sales are difficult to calculate because so many companies (like McIlhenny Co.) are private and don’t release sales figures. Industry estimates of annual sales are about $100 million to $200 million–a wide range, I know.
3. I estimated that tens of millions of people consume hot sauce in the USA, and hundreds of
4. Hot sauce is popular because it is the easiest way to spice up foods quickly and is very versatile. You don’t have to bother with chopping up fresh chiles, for example, and it makes a great substitute for fresh chiles. We have a search engine on our site and if you search for "hot sauce" you will find even more resources for your article–maybe too many, as it’s a popular subject.