FireTalkers: Interview with Blair Lazar of Blair’s Sauces and Snacks

Whether or not you’re a fan of his products, you have to admit that few people have had the impact and garnered a cult-like following quite like Blair Lazar of Blair’s Sauces and Snacks. I was recently given the opportunity to have an extended conversation with Blair, and he was candid, gushingly accommodating and extremely passionate as we spoke. We touched on several topics, including his reserves (which struck a nerve when I mentioned some were critical of the prices for which they were being sold), being on the internet, his collaboration with rock guitarist Zakk Wylde on the Berserker Sauces, and the fiery foods business.

Blair Lazar

Scott: For those who have never heard it, what was the “Reader’s Digest” version of how you created the Wings of Death challenge while working as a bartender on the Jersey Shore?

Blair: Well, that’s the inception of my Death Sauce back in ’89, you know bartending, serving drunks on the Jersey Shore. This was before what’s happened in the last 20 years, with the proliferation of spice. I think there’s something really exciting about watching somebody eat something hot, and that’s just as “simpleton” as I can say it. I think when you’re serving people liquor, and it’s 2 o’clock in the morning, what can you really do that’s legal to get them to leave? You can say, “hey, if you can eat my wings you can hang all night at the bar.” I would make four of the hottest wings you could possibly find, and tell them “if you could finish these wings, they’re yours and you could stay all night.” And the legend of Death Sauce was born. Nobody could finish them. Nobody stayed, and that was really the beginning of everything for me. And I was like “wow!” Not to sound kind of silly, but it was like a calling. That was when I think I became a chilehead, and realized I loved spicy foods.

Scott: Did you eat a lot of spicy foods growing up?

Blair: I don’t think I really grew up eating a lot of spice, not any more than the norm, you know what I mean? When I started making it, I started eating it. I really started wanting to raise my own challenge of eating hotter and hotter stuff for myself.

I think that’s why it worked for me; I do stuff that I love. I think if you do stuff that’s real, people know. That’s why it’s fun, ’cause it’s real.

Scott: Exactly. It’s easy to detect when someone’s just “going through the motions”.

Blair: Yeah.

Scott: What’s a typical day for you like?

Blair: Well…

Scott: If there’s a such thing (laughs).

Blair: Yeah (laughs)…You know, I don’t think there is “typical”. Now that I’m a dad of two, it’s definitely different than it was five years ago. I’ve got a beautiful two and a four year old. I spend time with them.

It’s funny. I don’t even say that I’m “going to work”. I really mean that. I feel like that’s silly to say. To me, it’s like when we have parties, and have people over or whatever, I’m like, “hey, try this pepper” or “try this new sauce I’m working on”, it’s really fun to get people’s reactions and to see what they think about it. We laugh, and they’ll ask, “wow, do you do this every day?” and I’m like “yeah! Isn’t that crazy?” (laughs) It really is; it’s really fun.

So a “typical” day for me? There isn’t one, to be honest with you. I think everyday is very different. I’m definitely not a routine guy. I’m not a “wake up at 7:00, do this, do that” kind of guy. I tend to wake up very late, because I do a lot of international stuff. I speak to people in Asia, in Australia, a lot of places overseas, so I’m usually up until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.

Scott: Is there a lot of PR involved in that?

Blair: I do a good amount of press stuff, but I also work very closely with my importers personally. When I say I’m up late, I’m working with them, you know what I mean?

Scott: Um-hmm.

Blair: I keep kind of odd hours, plus I’m a nocturnal creature by nature. Maybe it goes back to my bar days. I tend to do my most creative stuff after midnight, usually. I would have to say 90% or more of my best ideas are done between 12 AM and 3 AM…usually written on a piece of scrap paper. (laughs) Really. That’s probably pretty accurate.

Scott: Speaking of ideas, where do you usually come up with ideas for sauce? How many recipes do you come up with before you settle on a final one whenever you make a new product?

Blair: How many versions? Anywhere from 1 to 500. I mean that literally. I think sometimes the recipe is just right, and then sometimes my OCD kicks in and I’ll make changes that nobody else would ever even know but I would know. I obsess about it. I think it’s just my personality. Maybe at the core of it, people will say, “Blair, please, people don’t know or care about petty things”. I think they do care! I think the little things are everything. The little things are what matter, frankly. I think the moment you take that for granted, is when you should leave.

Scott: I think one of the most interesting things about you is that your e-mails you send out to subscribers are written personally by you, with grammatical errors and a few four letter words left in. Do you think this has hurt you (by possibly offending people) or helped you more (by making you seem more real and genuine)?

Blair: You know, that’s an interesting question. I don’t know. I think doing it is real. I write it as I “speak” it in my head. I’m very passionate about what I do, and I guess if that comes across wrong to someone I’m sorry. I can’t really fake that. I have people here, especially as we continue to grow that say, “change this” and I say “no, I don’t care, it’s real”. I know I might write the longest run-on sentences in the world. (laughs) I guess it’s a love me/hate me kind of thing. I don’t intentionally write something wrong. I just intentionally write. That’s a really good question, Scott…

Scott: As far as I know, some of the chileheads I’ve talked to, that type of writing has kind of endeared you more to them, because they might perceive it to be more authentic to them, even when looking at the product descriptions on your website – they can tell it’s “you”.

Blair: I don’t want to look like an idiot, obviously. I don’t want to spell the word “of” as O-V, obviously. I’m not the world’s best speller, nor am I the worst speller. I also don’t want it to look like it was written from a professor, because I’m not. I started writing e-mails for my first website [which was] on Prodigy. This was around in ’92 or ’93. I hasten to call it a “website”; I typed it myself. I had up a few things. I think was pre-Netscape, probably?

Scott: Yeah, I believe it was; Netscape came out around ’94.

Blair: Yeah, I might’ve gotten three orders total in the early years (laughs). But it was fun. But regardless of how things have changed, they really haven’t changed. Maybe that’s for the worse or for the better.

Scott: How important is it in having a close relationship with your customers?

Blair: On a 1 to 10 scale, I’d say a 10,000. It’s everything. It’s absolutely everything. It’s the only thing, in fact. It’s funny; as you grow in time, and look back, and I continue to see that these people are the reason Death Sauce has grown and continues to grow to become more and more popular. It’s not really me that makes it, but it’s them. It isn’t me. I can’t say that enough. Customers are everything. And maybe that’s why if my e-mails sound like they’re from the heart, it’s because they are.

Scott: What do you think about having an online presence these days?

Blair: I wish I could do more, and I’m going to do more. Not just more e-mails, I wish I could have the time to just sit down and talk to the amazing people I’ve had the privilege to be contacted by and have met along the way. There are just some interesting and incredible people out there. I continue to learn about them, and I’m fascinated by them. The chilehead sub-culture is a phenomenal thing that I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of. I think people in the mainstream culture haven’t yet woken up to who [the chilehead sub-culture] is, what it is, who’s a part of it, who are the unique people that make it up. The smart people, the wacky people. It’s all good. It’s a really awesome bunch of people. It really is.

Scott: What do you think of the chilehead culture online? Have you tried to stay connected to them through blogs, and through social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter…?

Blair: Not as much as I would like to be honest with you. I had back in the day, when it was at one point pretty much just the Hot Sauce Blog. What was that, about five years ago?

Scott: Yeah, it started around then, 2004, 2005.

Blair: Did that sort of disband? I don’t really even know. I haven’t spoken to Nick [Lindauer, the former webmaster of Hot Sauce Blog] in a long time.

Scott: About a year ago, Nick decided to quit posting entries in his blog and reformat the site into a closed community where a username and password was required to view a large bulk of it. People, the chileheads, were able to write their own contact in this new community, but many felt that the closed nature was a bit elitist and went against the free and open nature of the internet. Meanwhile, the “public side” of Hot Sauce Blog, the old blog that was viewable to everyone, quickly grew stale because no new content was being posted. Other websites are kind of taking up the slack for it nowadays.

Blair: I’m sure they are. Like I said, I would like to be more a part of it. I really would. I just don’t have a lot of time to spend on it. Again. it’s just like anything, there’s only so much time in the day. I do communicate a lot through e-mail, and I finally broke down, although I never said I would get one, but I got a Blackberry. Indeed I know why they call it “crackberry”. It’s helped me a lot, to answer e-mails faster, to be more in touch. I also find that I prefer to speak to people on the phone. I think our world has changed so much, since back when I started.

It’s funny, and here’s a great example of it, Scott… we get calls from people here everyday who ask, “can I talk to Blair? I wanna find out about starting up a hot sauce company.” If I have time, I’m happy to talk to somebody and help them out if I can. So I’m on the phone just a few days ago with some kid, who is 20, 22, 23 years old. He’s been calling, and I got back with him, and I say, “hey, what’s going on? What can I do for ya?” And he’s like, “hey man, can you help me out? I wanna start a company!” I say “sure, what can I do for you?” He goes, “I wanna buy glass for bottles…” And I said, “dude, you’ve gotta be kidding me! When I first started, I did this thing called ‘Ma Bell’. I did this thing which I’m sure you’ve never heard of called the ‘Yellow Pages’, for a company in California, because I heard about a glass company that was out there. I used the Yellow Pages so I could reach them. I had to do something else called ‘write a letter’, and put a stamp on it and mail it to some company down in Louisiana to find something else.” And I added, “dude, you have something called ‘Google’! And you want me to tell you where to get a glass company?” I said, “you got all the world’s info at your fingertips! You want to ask me something good, I’ll be more than happy to tell you, but to call me up to find a glass company, you could get anybody to tell you that!” (laughs)

Scott: Yeah (laughs)

Blair: I think that today, information is out there…

Scott: It’s absolutely amazing. Someone could just jump on the web, for instance, and find all kinds of recipes about hot sauces, and come up with something without scrounging around and bothering people on how to make hot sauce…

Blair: Yeah. Truthfully, the internet has helped out our entire movement. And I don’t mean just our company, I mean our *industry* it’s helped significantly. I think it’s great for everybody worldwide. I embrace it. I think it’s fantastic that on a daily basis we ship hot sauce around the world. For a guy that started this in a bar serving drunk people, I am proud to tell people in Hong Kong, in Germany, in Australia, in New Zealand, in France, in Italy, wherever they are around the world who get it every day…that’s an honor to me. It really is. I think it’s a testament to what anyone could do if they believe in something.

Scott: What do you think of the whole collector’s scene with reserves, special bottles with bottles going for hundreds and even thousands of dollars. I know one of your Pre-AMs just a few days ago just went for $4,001.

Blair: I saw that. It’s very humbling. I remember actually selling that bottle; maybe not that particular bottle, but that line of bottles in I believe it was Albany, NY in 1993 for $10. And I also remember when I sold it, and I remember I had Death Sauce and After Death Sauce, and that was it at the time. I had my Volkswagen. I remember making the reserves – it essentially wasn’t reserves, it was what it was ’cause I really didn’t have enough money for another label. I was like, “okay let me use these little bottles” (laughs) and make up a special concoction, and people would go, “are these ten bucks?” and I would reply, “I don’t know, maybe they’ll be worth $15 one day, and I gotta fill my Volkswagen up [with gas]”…(laughs)

It’s very flattering that people would spend that much [nowadays]. They set the value, not me. I think it’s awesome. I really do.

Scott: Do you pay attention to other companies, as far as what they do, when they release reserves and special collector’s edition bottles?

Blair: I’ve certainly seen a lot of different stuff out there. There’s some creative people out there. God bless ‘em all. It’s good for everybody.

Scott: Do you think collector’s bottles and the high prices they’re going for have “tarnished” the industry at all? There’s a lot of people out there primarily wanting to buy sauces just for their hot sauce collections. Meanwhile other people, such as I, who just buy hot sauces to actually use them.

Blair: I tell ya one thing. That’s a very good point. There’s a lot of stuff I put out that I do wish people would open and use. Sometimes stuff that’s in a pretty bottle, I take a lot of pride in. Obviously, once you buy it, I can’t dictate what you do with it. I think that in the end it’s the user who dictates what happens to it. I didn’t mean these to be created to end up on eBay. The fact that they are isn’t my call – it’s theirs. I don’t make a reserve for the resale of it.

Scott: I know there’s some people who are critical of some of the reserves, when they’re first being sold by the manufacturers, where they go for $100, $200, or whatever dollars. They’re kind of turned off by that, and their line of thinking might be, “well, the bottles of reserve are only dipped in wax, and it shouldn’t be worth more than x amount of dollars, and they’re only doing it for the money”. It seems like a lot of companies these days are releasing these…

Blair: I can’t speak for anyone else’s, obviously, but I can speak for mine. This might come as a surprise to you, but any of my reserves, such as last year’s Halloween reserves, cost FAR more than you would possibly imagine, plus the amount of time, and the amount of work that goes into one of these. And again, I’m only speaking for myself, and I have no idea of someone else’s stuff. It would probably blow your mind if you knew, truthfully. There have been reserve series, I have honestly priced, and knowingly priced, and have lost money on. That’s the truth. For real. I don’t do the reserves for monetary sense. I don’t. I really do them because I truly love them. I love making them. I find them to be a creative outlet for me. They’re something I spend an *enormous* amount of time on. The reason I’ll say one’s coming out, and it *doesn’t* come out is because I don’t feel it’s good, it’s not worthy of it, so I’m not into it. I won’t do it. I don’t ever look at them as “oh, let me make some money and crank them out”. I never do. I’ve pulled them before. I’ve done it.

I’ve very, very conscious of it. I’m also conscious of never, ever, ever taking advantage of [my customers]. I get e-mails all the times of these people who want to buy [and say], “Blair, can you make me this, can you make me a special reserve and I’ll pay you.” I’ll never do it. I won’t do it. I’ve been offered 50,000, 100,000 dollars to make somebody their own set of reserves. I’ve never done it. And I won’t do it. It’s not what I’m about. It’s the reason I won’t keep crankin’ them out. I never, ever, ever want to take advantage of a chilehead, ever. I always try to give them more than they expect. I always do it the best I can. The amount of work that goes into it, from right down to having a 24k gold dipped skull produced would blow your mind. Plus we don’t use wax – I use Italian resins, that are literally flown in from Italy. The display I used on last year’s Halloween alone cost ME over $100. Just the display. The year before that I had my Halloween bottles hand-etched, hand-painted…it cost me, aside from the ingredients, all the labor and the design, and everything else, it cost me far more than that. Believe me, FAR more. I do it out of love, man. That’s the truth.

My business is in snacks and hot sauces, and the reserves are only truly a labor of love, and that is the God’s honest truth.

On top of that, and I really want to tell you, anytime there is a monetary thing in it, I do my very best to support a very big cause, which I believe in, Smile Train. I’ve had the privilege to help change the lives of an awful lot of children, and I feel really humbled and blessed to do that. I’m very conscious about it, and I’m a big fan of trying to give back. The most recent one was I think about a month ago, the 2 and 3 AM reserve sets where we charged $200, and $100 from every set sold went to Smile Train. That’s a pretty big thing for me.

Zakk Wylde and Blair Lazar

Scott: Changing gears here… how did you and Zakk Wylde hook up?

Blair: Zakk is a Jersey guy. He actually grew up 20 minutes from my office. It turns out, Zakk and his manager were flying back on a plane from a gig in London. Our product, unbeknownst to me, was actually in Sky Mall, you know the magazine that’s in planes? He saw [my sauce] in some catalog we were in. Zakk said he liked the skull and that [our products] were cool, and his manager called us up, he started talking to me, through all of the odd connections, and then I finally spoke with Zakk, who’s this super cool guy. It was just sort of kismet. It was a really cool thing.

Scott: Who decided what ingredients would go in the Berserker sauces?

Blair: Both of us.

Scott: Did he fly out to your kitchens and test different recipes with you?

Blair: He flew out; there’s pictures of that on our website. Did he test out recipes here? No, he didn’t. I think that when he and I first met, the sauces were first coming out, you know, being developed. But what we would do is make sauces, send them to him, overnight them to him, and we would change this, change that, and Zakk likes it hot! Zakk happened to like what we were doing. We [at Blair’s] were able to work normally with what we were doing, and just essentially modified the process to include Zakk. Zakk would say, I like this, but make that like this, and add this to that. It was fun.

Scott: What would be the first sauce of yours that you would suggest a novice chile head try out?

Blair: Some of my Original Death, definitely Jalapeno Death, and Pure Death.

Scott: What’s your favorite sauce that you produce?

Blair: Those three (laughs).

I think there’s a time and a place for extract sauces, mine or anybody’s, and I do use my own. But sometimes I use them for the kick, out of the bottle, straight, which is getting rarer these days as I’m 40. I like the sauces I can just pour out of the bottle. I use them liberally.

Scott: I’m the same way. I like sauces you don’t have to worry about putting just one drop of it on, where you can just pour it on. I even take the restrictor caps off of some of these sauces.

Blair: Scott, what’s your favorite hot sauce overall of any brand?

Scott: Me? Oh…there’s probably around five that come to mind. I like your Original Death, I like the Ring of Fire sauces…

Blair: I agree 100%, Mike and Diane’s make great sauces…

Scott: …and don’t hate me for saying this, but I love the flavor of Cholula…

Blair: No, there’s nothing wrong [with that]. I love Tabasco! I use Tabasco. I really do. It’s obviously a very different sauce than what we do, but anybody that would knock Tabasco would be an idiot anyway. You can’t knock them. They make a great product. And Cholula’s a great sauce. They’re different sauces than what we do, but they’re great products. I agree with you 100%.

Scott: There’s Marie Sharps…I love their Habanero sauce.

Blair: Another good sauce. Which I’m sure you know the whole Melinda story.

Scott: Yep. There’s a few newer sauce companies that make excellent stuff. Danny Cash, Intensity Academy, Benito’s Hot Sauce…

Blair: Benito’s?

Scott: Yeah, a fairly newer company based out of Vermont. Have you heard of them?

Blair: No, I haven’t. How long have they been around?

Scott: About a couple of years. The guy has sent me some sauces and it’s really top-notch stuff.

Blair: Another one of my favorites is one that’s not around anymore is Bustelo’s. I don’t know if you remember that one or not.

Scott: The name kinda sounds familiar, but I haven’t tried them.

Blair: I haven’t even spoken to him for a long time, but he was based out of California. He used to age it. It was really great sauce. I haven’t seen it in ages. It was great, great hot sauce. I’m probably dating myself, that was probably the mid-’90s. It was a real stand-out sauce; smoky, natural.

Scott: What is the average amount of heat that you can take that you can eat on a regular basis?

Blair: In defined Scoville units?

Scott: Maybe, or you can say that it compares with this sauce, or that sauce…

Blair: In terms of Scoville units…we don’t print Scoville Units of our sauces on our website for multiple reasons. One, it’s very misleading to the consumer. Two, through all the trade shows and all the stuff I’ve done, I’ve encountered about three million tongues in my life, with them tasting things, and I’ve literally seen someone taste something that I knew for a fact was 35,000 Scoville units versus something that was 75,000 Scoville units, and swear to me that the 35,000 was hotter than the 75,000! That’s very possible, as I’m sure you know by what else is in there [in the sauces] could effect the perceived heat…

Scott: Like vinegar can really bring out the heat…

Blair: Yeah, or like sugar…they can all change the profile. So I think 30, 40,000 Scovilles is a nice, comfortable, pour-it-on-your-eggs heat. It’s a really comfy, soft heat. I think that as time has gone, I’ve needed more and more…I sound like an addict, huh? It’s the truth, though.

Scott: You have a favorite chile pepper?

Blair: I’ve grown some really great chile plants this summer. They’re still yielding. I think my favorite in the world is the fatalii.

I don’t know if I buy into this whole “jolokia is the hottest” idea. I don’t know. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. That’s open for another debate, I guess.

I like that piercing hot you get from a fresh jolokia or fatalii, but I really love the fatalii. It’s got that really fruity flavor. I’m really about that flavor with the heat. Hot is hot, but [a combination of] flavor and heat is something different.

Scott: I totally agree. You’ve got to have flavor with it. Pure heat is nothing without a good taste.

Blair: Right.

Scott: What do you think is the strangest use of your products you’ve ever heard of?

Blair: Nothing is strange to me. Really, I’ve heard everything from bear repellent to a guy calling me up telling me and said that – this is a true story – his girlfriend was mad at him, and she put some of my sauce on her tongue and performed a sex act on him…

Scott: Ouch. Now that’s revenge.

Blair: What you say to that? (laughs) “Glad I could help?” I tell you, not much really is strange to me.

Scott: When you tried pure capsaicin a while back, what did it feel like and how long did it take for the heat to subside?

Blair: Like I said, I’ve never had my tongue pierced, but that’s absolutely the first thing I could equate it to. I tried it the first time in 2004, and I don’t know that [the burn has] gone away.

Scott: Really?

Blair: (laughs) No, it went away. I felt it on my tongue for days, for real. I do not recommend it. I absolutely do not recommend it.

Scott: Yeah, the hottest I’ve gone is 3-4 million Scoville units, and that’s about all I want.

Blair: Yeah. But pure, I do not recommend it. Don’t try it. Brother, it’s the real deal. But it’s adventures in eating, you know? Hence, the term “extreme food”. I’ve always had a belief that food should be fun. That’s really my mission. I wanna make it fun. I want people to feel alive and I want them to enjoy it.

Scott: Outside of pure capsaicin, what would your worse burn be? Anything take you by surprise, especially in the early days?

Blair: Hmmm…I’ll tell you, one dish lit me up like a mofo. It was at the Brick Lane Curry House in New York with their Phaal. It lit me up. It was hot. I didn’t expect it to be that hot.

Scott: What do you think has been your biggest challenge or hurdle so far?

Blair: My biggest challenge? Probably that a Jersey boy can make hot sauce.

Scott: Did it seem like the environment 20 years ago wasn’t too friendly if you weren’t from the Old South making hot sauce?

Blair: I just remember making hot sauce since ’89, but I really got out of the state of New Jersey by around ’92. That’s when I got out there a bit. It was like, “what the hell does the boy from Jersey know about hot sauce? You don’t know shit about it.” I was like, “well, step the f**k up.” (laughs)

I think it’s never ending. You’ve got over 6 billion people in the world to tell about the hot sauces. It’s something you’ve really gotta love, and if you’re really gonna do something for your life, for forever. You can’t do something for twenty years, I don’t care what it is, unless you love it. I think that every day is a challenge. But it depends on how you look at it, I really don’t look at it like it’s bad. It’s all retrospective, I guess.

Scott: What kind of products are coming out from Blair’s in the near future?

Blair: More snacks. I got pretzels coming – a very special line of pretzels. Five new hot sauces, one of which is actually done, and we’re just finishing the packaging. It’s called Golden Death. It’s a beautiful tropical rum sauce. It’s fantastic. It uses beautiful scotch bonnet peppers. There’s wing sauces, barbecue sauces, a new line of salsas, a whole bunch of stuff.

The last 20 years have been practice. And I’m kinda ready to get started, so to speak.

Scott: Looking back at the history of Blair’s, is there one thing you would do differently?

Blair: No.

Scott: Not a thing?

Blair: No. And I can tell you why. Have I made mistakes? Oh yeah, fuckin’ right, I have. Absolutely, and I’m sure I’ve made some today. But I think I’ve learned from every single one of them. I know everything happens for a reason. I’ve learned from everything I’ve done, and I continue to. So, no, because I wouldn’t have learned, and I wouldn’t have had the experiences that made me who I am.

I’m glad I was young and dumb when I started. I’m glad I didn’t know then what I know now, and if I had, I might not’ve wanted to start. (laughs) I wouldn’t change a fuckin’ thing, including every big mistake I’ve made. I value very much what I have, and I value people. I always have. That’s probably the single most important thing I can say. Try not to lose sight of that. It’s people. I can sit here and tell you how great my sauces are, but who really cares? It comes down to the people. It really does. Why do you see incredible sauces, not just sauces, but incredible food products that are here today, but for some reason are gone tomorrow. But there are really lousy products that are out there everywhere. One of the things is the big corporations making that happen. A lot of it has to do with the people involved. That’s my simple answer to that.

Scott: Where do you see the fiery food industry as a whole going in the next 5 or 10 years?

Blair: Incredible, insane growth. It will be incredible. Another perfect example I could give you is, when I first started, nobody knew what a habanero was. Nobody could say the word “chipotle”. You look at it today, Habanero Doritos are their number one selling SKU. Chipotle Grill was McDonald’s single biggest spin-off in their entire corporate history. The industry today, there’s co-branding and marketing…today, I don’t want to necessarily say it’s beginning, but it hasn’t even remotely come close to the top, not even close. I can say this because each and every single day we get countless e-mails, phone calls and letters – yes, people still write letters – that say, “hey I’ve heard about your stuff, where can I get it. I [currently] use only Tabasco.” I love those letters! Because I love the guy who tells me he loves Tabasco on his eggs every morning. God bless ‘em. Because I’m going to show [them] a different side of the world.

I love the fact that Tabasco in a sense has been around all this time. I owe a lot to Tabasco for creating something a hundred-some-odd years ago and opening a market.

So where do I see the industry heading? I see growth. Growth, growth, growth. I really do. Endless opportunity. I love the fact that we’re an underground world that people don’t know about. Once they learn about it, they’re like, “Wow! That’s fun!” And watching someone go from thinking that a jalapeno is something great heat-wise to working their way up the ladder, it’s fun, it’s exciting. Whether it’s my products or anybody’s, just the raw fruit, it’s fantastic. I love seeing it happen. Every day.

Blair's Sauces and Snacks