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The term "hot sauce" actually covers a multitude of heat levels, from sort of spicy to scorch-your-mouth fiery.
"Tabasco Sauces are available from the mild end of the Scoville scale, at 100-600 with Tabasco Sweet & Spicy Sauce, to the hotter end of 7,000, with Tabasco Habanero Sauce, and everything in between," notes a representative of the The McIlhenny Co., which has been making its iconic sauce on Louisiana's Avery Island for 147 years.
But what creates a hot sauce's signature heat? "Peppers help differentiate the hotness, and they offer different flavor in products," replies Domonic Biggi, CEO of Hillsboro, Ore.-based Beaverton Foods, while Miguel Gonzalez, VP of food at Chester, N.J.-based French's Food Co., owned by Reckitt Benckiser and maker of the Frank's RedHot sauce line, chimes in, "Some sauces are all about heat, while others add more flavor."
"It’s all about the type of pepper you use," agrees Matt Vetter VP of production and "youngest brother" at family-owned Tessemae's All Natural, in Annapolis, Md. "You can measure them on the Scoville scale, from the Carolina reaper all the way down to a bell pepper. The Carolina reaper is the hottest pepper in the world. Hot sauces differ from the type of pepper you use and the other ingredients you use. The basic is a fermented pepper mash mixed with vinegar and salt. … Then you have your sriracha, which has garlic [and] sugar added. … Then you get into Buffalo-style wing sauces," which Tessemae's counts among the condiments it produces.
Frank's RedHot should also know a thing or two about that last variety: Its sauce, according to Gonzalez, "is the secret ingredient in the Buffalo wing flavor, now famous in everything from Buffalo wings to Buffalo chicken and dips."
Hot sauce isn't just popular for home dining: Cases of the spicy condiment shipped from foodservice distributors to restaurants and other foodservice outlets have grown by double digits over the past two years, according to SupplyTrack, The NPD Group's monthly tracking service of products shipped from major broadline distributors to foodservice operators.
While classic Louisiana-style hot sauce still leads in terms of case volume shipped from distributors to U.S. foodservice outlets, shipment growth has slowed down because of the burgeoning assortment of hot sauces now available, Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD finds. For instance, case shipments of some habanero hot sauce flavors, especially those combining fruit flavors such as mango, grew by triple digits in the year ending December 2014 versus the year-ago period. Additionally, double the number of cases chipotle and sriracha hot sauces shipped in 2014 than in the previous year.
Speaking of foodservice applications, CHA! by Texas Pete sriracha hot sauce is now available in 28-ounce plastic bottles designed especially for back-of-house use. As well as offering more sauce, the new item's plastic container is much safer in a busy kitchen environment, while the resealable lid enables chefs to use as much or as little of the on-trend sauce as they need.
"The 28-ounce joins the 18-ounce squeeze bottle and the PC packets in our line of sizes available for foodservice, giving operators a convenient package for any application of this versatile, flavorful sauce," says Michael O’Donnell, corporate executive chef and national accounts manager at Winston-Salem, N.C.-based TW Garner, maker of Texas Pete sauces.
Operators visiting the Texas Pete foodservice website can order the product, access recipes for CHA! by Texas Pete and download a special introductory rebate coupon offering up to $200 off.