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So You Want To Be A Hot Sauce Or Chile Pepper Reviewer? Avoid These 7 Pitfalls.

Pitfalls of Hot Sauce and Chile Pepper Video ReviewingDo you want to be a hot sauce or chile pepper reviewer?

You may feel a pull towards showing your spicy food passions on camera. It could be anything from trying scorching super hot peppers to sampling to reviewing hot sauces and BBQ sauces.

With today’s technology, its become far less cumbersome to get your mug in video formats all over the world, with social networks having full video integration. YouTube is still the major player, and along with a half-dozen other video outlets, all you basically need to do nowadays is open up the site or app, hit record, and you’re good to go.

Outside of technological considerations (more on that at the end of this article), what do you need to be successful?

Here are a few basic important things…

What Are Your Top 10 Favorite Hot Sauces of All Time? 2016 Edition

Top 10 favorite hot sauce listsFive years ago, I asked a huge group of chileheads – everyone from chile growers to bloggers to product makers to industry folks – to compile a list of their top 10 Favorite Hot Sauces. My original blog post highlighted many of the top tens I received. The post was a huge traffic monster, and spurred lots and lots of discussion in the comments.

Since 2011, I’ve changed blogging software that was running on my site from my own custom PHP scripting to Wordpress, and sadly I wasn’t able to transfer the comments over. Because of this, I’ve always wanted to do a follow-up post and get more comments and discussion going. I’ve also wanted to hear from a few other new voices and get their choices for their favorite sauces of all time…

Hot Sauce Hall of Fame Nomination Ballot for 2017

Hot-Sauce-Hall-of-Fame-Crest-LogoThe Hot Sauce Hall of Fame Foundation proudly presents to you the Nomination Ballot for the Class of 2017. The Nomination Ballot allows professionals from the fiery foods industry, also known as the Selection Committee, will determine the top 10 names placed on the final ballot.

The Hot Sauce Hall of Fame will induct 3 people this coming year into the Class of 2017. Inductees will receive a distinctive Red Jacket with the Hot Sauce Hall of Fame Crest and the prestigious Hall of Fame Ring.

And, you can be a part of this and help select the nominees for this year’s induction…

Why You Need to Enter THE Chile Pepper Awards

the-chile-pepper-awards-2016Calling all manufacturers of spicy goods! Do you want your product to be seen by 200,000 chileheads? Does a full page in Chile Pepper to showcase your product sound good? What about being included in Chile Pepper‘s renewal notices? An award to prove to your peers and customers just how tasty your product is?

If your answer is a resounding YES!, then you need to enter The Chile Pepper Awards competition. And the good news is that there’s still time to meet the deadline of October 21.


– Banner ad just for entering the contest. Whether you enter 1 product or 10, your banner ad will be on www.chilepepper.com. ($595 value for free)

– Ad in Chile Pepper Bazaar. One for every THREE entries. Remember 200k hungry, high-income, speciality product buying readers are waiting to see your…

2016 Weekend of Fire New Product Report and Photos


Suzi and Scotty Owens of Scotty O’ Hotty Hot Sauces

It was a thrill to be back in Fairfield, Ohio for the 10th Weekend of Fire (shown as Weekend of Fire X on their marketing materials), held at the expansive Oscar Event Center inside of the Jungle Jim’s International Market mall. Held on Saturday, October 1st and Sunday, October 2nd, this event is the biggest and longest-lasting fiery foods celebration in the Midwest. I was there both days to take in the sights, the sounds, and (most importantly) the flavors.

Show attendance seemed down over previous years. The crowds on both the show floor and around the “Arena of Fire” eating contests looked sparse on Saturday, while on Sunday, they picked up a little bit.

When it came to the eating challenges, I paid little attention to them outside of the one event I helped judge (the Hot Diggity Dog contest sponsored by CaJohns).

Instead, I wanted to focus on the food products at the show…

Review – Ricky’s Lucky Nuts


Along with pretzels, consider peanuts to be one of the two most boring and bland entities of the snacking word. Those two things are used waaaayyyy too often as a “filler” in trail mixes and snack mixes. I could honestly do without ’em most of the time.

So when Ricky’s Lucky Nuts offered to send me five of their flavored peanuts – Black Pepper and Sea Salt, Real Coffee, Spicy Chile Chipotle, Sweet Chai, and Thai Red Curry – I admittedly was not too enthusiastic at all about trying them. I thought, “alright, let’s get these quicjly out of the way.”  I was ready to award these average or even below-average reviews.

Instead, I was wowed – and even floored – by these five offerings. The flavorings were pretty much spot-on, and dazzling roasted peanuts are miles higher than any hum-drum Planters variety…

Blast From the Past – CaJohns Open House Diary and Photos


The following is my recollection from the CaJohns Open House event from Monday, August 2, 2010. These open houses were held at the CaJohns Fiery Foods facilities in the Columbus, Ohio area the day after the Weekend of Fire Hot Sauce Expo. These were CaJohn’s way of providing excellent free food and commeraderie for chileheads owners of sauce companies. In addition to the post-WOF open houses, these get-togethers were also held in conjunction with other events such as the Columbus North Market Fiery Foods Festival, and were an absolute blast for anyone attending!

Having been guided by my iPhone’s GPS/Map app, I was the first visitor to arrive at the new CaJohns facilities in the northern Columbus, Ohio suburb of Westerville. Not knowing where to park or even if this was even the correct building, I pulled the Roberts family truckster into a large back parking lot. I noticed the familiar white and yellow CaJohns van pulling out of a spot and heading around to the front of the building and I followed suit. John “CaJohn” Hard bounded out of the drivers seat and gave me a welcoming handshake. For a few minutes he chatted about the chile pepper plants (among them some Bhut Jolokias) that were planted out in front of the building before we darted inside.

CaJohn first showed me the impressive trophy for the inaugural Reviewers Cup, a competition to see which hot sauce blogger was able to taste and identify ingredients in food most accurately. He confided in me a couple of hints as to what the contest would have in store for us. Prior to this, I had no idea what to expect (would we sample hot sauces? A dish of a multi-ingredient, mish-mash of components such as chili or jambalaya? Or would Chef Steve concocted something special and completely unanticipated for us?). CaJohn said that it would be simpler and that blogger participants would taste ingredients common to hot sauces and salsas. Hmmm…

Why You Should Donate to the Fix Sriracha Sauce Kickstarter Campaign

FIX Kick Starter Lemongrass Sriracha SauceI’m absolutely flooded with requests from burgeoning hot sauce companies to promote their fundraising campaigns such as Kickstarter. I get at least four or five requests per month from people and sauces I’ve never heard of asking me to plug their stuff.

Sorry, that ain’t happening. Unless I know your product(s) and your company, that is something I refuse to do.

In the case of Fix Hot Sauce, however, I am more than pleased to give them a shout-out with their Kickstarter campaign. Why? Because their regular red sriracha sauce is the best sriracha sauce I’ve ever eaten. The stuff is outstanding. And I want to give aid to any and all struggling businesses with products I belive in.

Now the fine folks at Fix Hot Sauce want to expand their product line to include a green-colored lemongrass sriracha sauce. This new condiment has a slightly more earthy and brighter tone, with a fresh lemongrass and citrus flavor. The sauce uses special organic green chile peppers that originated in Vietnam. This new lemongrass sriracha is slated to be released early in 2017.

Sound good? Do yourself a favor and visit Fix Hot Sauce’s Kickstarter page and consider helping out one of the most promising new sauce makers in the fiery foods biz…now!

Jungle Jim’s Weekend of Fire X – 10 Years of Heating Up the Midwest


Are you serious? Jungle Jim’s Weekend of Fire fiery foods show is already turning 10 years old? Outrageous!

The venerable Weekend of Fire (or WOF for short) is an expo that will always remain special to me. Why? It was one of the first hot sauce festivals of any kind that I’ve attended. Unlike more “national”, larger-scale events like the Fiery Foods Show in Albuquerque, New Mexico or ZestFest in the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas area, the WOF felt a little more like “home” in its more centrally-located digs in Fairfield, Ohio, inside of the Cincinnati metro area. During the first several years of the WOF, the Jungle Jim’s staff graciously let us fiery foods bloggers have our own booth (which we’ve used for various purposes, from being a “hub” to plug in and charge our electronic devices to raising money for charities) at the show. Us bloggers have been able to give massive amounts of input into the show, including the schedule structure and eating contests. We’ve recorded chilehead round table podcast episodes there on the premises. The WOF’s venue is the Oscar Event Center, which is technically a part of Jungle Jim’s International Market, one of the greatest supermarket experiences in the world. Last, but not least, the WOF has often coincided with the unaffiliated CaJohn’s Open Houses 90 minutes northeast in Columbus, Ohio, itself a lighter, fun excursion for hardcore chileheads.

And now…this li’l ol’ show has been going on for ten years? Where in the world has the time gone?

Anyway, this year’s Weekend of Fire marks a return of the Roberts clan to the event. We’ll be hitting most, if not all, of both days it is open – Saturday, October 1st and Sunday, October 2nd. If you happen to see any of us wondering about the show floor, feel free to stop and say “hi!”

If you are looking for any reason to attend, let me give you a few:

There are plenty of fun eating contests to participate in or just watch (merely witnessing eager contestants scarfing down large quantities of scorching hot buffalo wings, hot dogs, pie, pizza, and more while sweating and turning lobster-red is a blast in and of itself). A full schedule of food battles can be found at…

Smokey Stuffed Jalapenos with Bacon Recipe


With tailgating season right upon us, here is a great recipe to get you started! Courtesy of my good friends at Stubb’s BBQ, here is a winner of an appetizer platter: Smokey Stuffed Jalapenos with Bacon.


  • 24 fresh jalapenos, halved and seeded
  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • ½ lbs. uncooked chorizo
  • 24 slices of bacon, cut into halves (about 2 lbs.)
  • 1 cup Stubb’s Smokey Mesquite Bar-B-Q Sauce

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat a skillet to…

Ok, Where’d the Podcasts Go?

Firecast Podcast I wish creating a new podcast episode would be as easy as pushing a button.

I get messages and emails every week about it. People want to know, “Scott, are you going to start up with Firecast Podcast episodes again?” The short answer is, I don’t know.

The long answer is that there is still quite a bit more I want to accomplish with having a fiery foods and BBQ podcast. I have slam-dunk ideas swimming around in my head, such as special guests to bring on to interview, more compelling conversation topics with my co-hort Ken Alexander, and concepts and subject I’m itching to cover.

The “problem” is…well, it’s messy and complicated.

I could very easily place blame on things that are going on in my life. Adjusting to a new job, spending more time with my woman and my boys, launching and maintaining mine and my girlfriend’s new pizza review blog, and a plethora of other little things honestly have taken more of my time.

But it would be unfair to make them all instant scapegoats. To be fair, I would also have to point the finger right back on little old me. If I really wanted to, I’m sure that I could “make” more time. Yet a certain level of apathy and lack of drive exists. I just don’t have the desire and motivation right now to sit down in my home office and recording room and crank out and edit a fresh few episodes.

Sriracha is America’s Most Searched Condiment

Bowl of sriracha sauceEver wonder what condiment Americans are searching for more than any other? The answer is probably not a surprise to some of you.

It is Sriracha.

Sriracha chile pepper sauce, with the biggest-selling brand being the famous Huy Fong Foods “Rooster Sauce,” has certainly taken the culinary world by storm over the past couple of years. Therefore, it’s been on the minds of a lot of people, warranting searches on Google in a majority of the States.

Below is a handy infographic created by Fix Hot Sauce that shows that the trend towards Sriracha has grown in the past five years.

NOTE: Unfortunately, b0th the aforementioned Fix Hot Sauce and Business Insider Australia are taking this information and are erroneously reporting that Sriracha is “America’s Favorite Condiment.” Simple logic can tell you that Google searches do not equal sales. I mean, milk is in almost every U.S. home, but when is the last time you’ve done an internet search on milk? It is my hope that Fix Hot Sauce and Business Insider Australia both clarify this and correct their claims.

14 Signs You Are a True Hot Sauce Fanatic or Chilehead


Becoming addicted to fiery foods can become incredibly easy. For a lot of us, one taste of delicious heat, and we’re hooked! For others, the fascination with chile peppers and hot sauce is a gradual process. So how do you know if you have a true obsession with spicy foods? Here are 14 signs you are a true-blue chilehead:

  1. If you have more pictures on your phone of your chile peppers and pepper plants than pictures of your family.
  2. If you keep bottles of hot sauce at your work or in your car.
  3. If “ring of fire” and “burns twice” actually mean something to you.
  4. If you have or have ever considered getting a chile pepper tattoo…

2016 UCP Heartland Wing Ding St. Louis Judging Results

2016-st-louis-wing-ding-photo-1Every year, the preeminent chicken wing event is the St. Louis, MO metro area is, of course, the UCP Heartland Wing Ding. The 2016 event was held last night, and I was lucky enough to be one of the celebrity judges for the contest.

16 different St. Louis area restaurants not only sold their wings to the general public who paid to get into the foodie event, but also entered in one or more wings for consideration in the contest. The judging was split up into three categories: Best Traditional Style (with the flavor profile being based in the classic cayenne pepper sauce and melted butter, and can be grilled, smoked, fried and/or breaded), Best Specialty Style (anything goes!), and Best Dry Rub Style (non-sauced but with a seasoning covering the outside, and can be grilled, smoked, fried and/or breaded). There was a mind-numbing 38 individual entries across all three categories; although judges didn’t need to consume 38 entire wings, we were required to take a bite of each one.

Judging was subjective to the preferences of each judge, and included such criteria as appearance, texture, flavor, and juiciness…

NMSU Researchers Investigate How Super-Hot Peppers Pack Their Powerful Punch

trinidad-moruga-scorpion-nmsuResearchers at New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute have discovered that super-hot chile peppers, those with more than one million Scoville Heat Units, are built differently than other peppers. Unlike regular chile peppers, super-hot peppers make the most of the interior space they have available, which can lead to some serious heat.

“What we were interested in finding was why super-hot chile peppers are able to get that hot,” said Dr. Paul Bosland, an NMSU Regents Professor and director of the university’s Chile Pepper Institute.

According to Bosland, it has been known that a chile pepper’s heat comes from the chemical compound capsaicin, and that capsaicinoids are found in yellow-colored sacs called vesicles. In most chile peppers, the capsaicinoid vesicles are attached to the fruit’s placenta, where the seeds are located.

With super-hot peppers, those sacs are also found on the fruit wall, and in larger quantities. This gives the pepper far more surface area to pack in capsaicinoid vesicles and to turn up the heat. Peter Cooke, with the NMSU Core University Research Resources Laboratory, was able to make the capsaicinoid sacs fluoresce in both jalapeno peppers and Trinidad Moruga Scorpion peppers and then examined the fruit with university’s electron microscope…