Posted April 7, 2006 by Nick Lindauer in Hot Sauce News

Here Comes One Big Ass Sign

Christine L. Romero
The Arizona Republic

Goodyear-based Southwest Specialty Food Inc. has scored an Ass Kickin’ win with the City Council.

The council recently approved the new sign that the hot-sauce maker wants to help drive tourists and customers to its gift shop. The ranch-style sign will be 32 feet high and grace the entrance of the factory, off Bullard Avenue near Interstate 10. The $50,000 sign will be made of high-tech plastics and sport a 6- to 8-foot-high donkey atop it making a static kicking motion.

The three-dimensional animal alone will cost $25,000, said Linda Jacobs, co-owner of the company, which has annual sales around $5 million. The donkey is a tribute to Southwest Specialty’s motto: “Have an Ass Kickin’ Day!”

“The sign is phenomenal. It goes with the theme of what we do,” Jacobs said. “It’s not a hokey little sign.”

The company makes and distributes about 150 products worldwide, including hot sauce, salsa, barbecue popcorn and spicy jellybeans. Ass Kickin’ and Hot Sauce from Hell are the company’s two biggest lines, which include salsas, taco seasoning and olive oil.

Jacobs isn’t sure what the sign will say. One rendering has the company name on the front and “Have an Ass Kickin’ Day!” on the opposite side. But that’s not yet final.

Jacobs, who owns Southwest Specialty with her husband, Jeff, hopes that the sign will inspire people to visit the gift shop, see the live donkeys and mules, and have a photo taken with them.

The sign was a point of controversy because it’s considered a pole-mounted sign. City officials cannot regulate what the sign says because of the First Amendment. Goodyear and other cities use sign codes that encourage monument signs, which are more common in newer developments. But the Jacobses argued that the ranch-style nature of their business lent itself to this style of sign.

The Goodyear city staff suggested that the council deny the sign. A few nearby landowners objected to it, while others favored it.

The measure passed the council last week on a 5-2 vote, with Vice Mayor Frank Cavalier and Councilwoman Georgia Lord dissenting. Councilman Rob Antoniak flip-flopped, originally saying he planned to reject the sign but then agreeing to it.

Cavalier said the language isn’t an issue for him. He doesn’t like the look of the sign.

“We are trying to be more sophisticated, and I don’t think it (the sign) is conducive to this,” he said.

Cavalier noted that the sign will hold little advertising value because the only people who will regularly see it are in the property across the street.

Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog