Meet Your Maker #4 – Defcon Sauces and The Creator
Do you remember Beaker from The Muppets? How about Professer Frink from the Simpsons? Well these fictional characters have come to life in “The Creator”. Mild mannered by day, a hot wing sauce virtuoso the rest of the time. I was able to infiltrate the Defcon Bunker to interrogate the Creator for a bit and get his views on Wing Sauce Domination. Grab a beer, or the closest cat and enjoy the ramblings of “The Creator”.
- Why hot sauce?
Well, [tag]hot sauce[/tag], or to be more specific, [tag]wing sauce[/tag], has been kind of a passion of mine for many years. When I first had wings, many years ago, I was thoroughly intrigued, and felt I could make something better than what was being served in most, if not all, the restaurants I had frequented. I started making the stuff about 11-12 years ago, exclusively for Superbowl parties. The first few formulas I produced rivaled that of muskrat bile, but through trial and error and many tests on major beer drinkers, I seem to have touched on the Holy Grail, so to speak. The Superbowl parties we throw now have become almost ritualistic. This past game I actually cooked up nearly 100 pounds of them (with 1 turkey fryer, mind you) and the serving plate was picked clean. I’m not really patting myself on the back here (well, maybe) but there are few if any that don’t like our [tag]wings[/tag].
- Where did the idea come from for you to get involved in doing this?
As I stated, I really thought I could come up with something better than what was being served to the masses at many restaurants. I then discovered the sadistic yet insanely pleasurable world of [tag]capsaicin[/tag]. It’s joyous to watch others writhe in agony, and then come back for more, it really makes life worth living.
- If you had to pick a favourite sauce of yours, which would it be?
Hands down it would have to be the ZERO. A LOT of time is invested in making these little cretins of painful bliss. The Createss has allowed me run with it when it comes to the packaging, she handles the money, thank God. I LOVE making this stuff, and will continue to do so. I have learned quite a bit about the true essence of the habanero (orange) in working with it in our manner. I had met up with Nick sometime ago in Hoboken for many beers one afternoon, and sort of let him in on how we make it. He seemed truly intrigued, as the process is lengthy and very labor-intensive. He wanted me to share the process with him and all of you, but I must decline at this point. Let’s just say it utilizes a cold press, a triple-distillation, an temporary infusion of essential oils (for extraction purposes only) and about 3 different forms of non-lethal alcohol (one literally from the backwoods of Tennessee). Dry ice is used as a shock catalyst to separate the various compounds after the initial distillation as well. A short fermentation period, then back into the pressure cooker and cold press with various micro-screens, so as to seriously limit the amount of mash that will enter a Batch’s vessel. The result is an oil and micro-crystal substance with only a slight flavor and literally NO aftertaste. It may not be as hot as many of the ultra-high scoville unit extract sauces out there, but the stuff is kickin’ and the virtual lack of flavor and any aftertaste is exactly what we were after. People ask why would you create something with almost no taste? My answer has always been, “Let’s say you have a chili recipe that has been handed down to you, but some people don’t think it’s hot enough. Well, put a few drops of ZERO into it…It will make it much hotter, but not change the flavor of the chili at all”. Also, due to popular demand, and the fact we have personally created a new and improved press (we’re working on the patent as we speak, kinda cool), we will be offering a few 1 ounce ZERO bottles un-signed and un-numbered, for personal use, when we release the Batch #3 on Sept. 9th (the best packaging yet, nothing like the first 2). I had quite a number of people tell me they wanted to taste it, but didn’t want to break open the collector bottle. I can and did understand that, being a collector myself.
- Any new products we should be ready for from your line?
Actually, we are currently working on three. I am currently test marketing a habanero horseradish (Defcon Habby-Horse), made the old-fashioned way, just like the ZERO (NO electrical machines). It has produced some very good response from the people who have had it. We were going to use pure horseradish oil, which having worked with, is quite nasty stuff, and not the easiest thing to get out of a root. But after some kitchen clearing fumes, and near death respiratory malfunctions, we decided not to weaponize it or utilize it our product. We also found out the pure stuff (even if you extract it yourself) is actually a contraband in most states, if not all (it was going to be used as a chemical warfare weapon in WWI, but they decided on mustard gas), so we broke camp and proceeded in a different direction. The other 2 are still quite early in the creative process. And as a side note, I am currently working on an osmodic method to introduce capsaicin crystals in solution to tomatoes (hint : It ain’t easy finding a liquid to contain the crystals in solution that won’t kill the plant). Nothing like a spicy tomato straight from the ground. And no, I’m NOT kidding.
- Where do you see the future of hot sauce in Canada 5 years from now (remember I live in Canada)?
Good question. Canada is a very tappable market, as we have found out. One of our larger customers, who is acting as a pseudo-distributor for us now, is located in Alberta. There seems to be a strong desire for capsaicin-based euphoria above the northern border, and we are more than happy to oblige the market. Nothing like Defcon to warm the frozen tundra. Perhaps we can come up with a polar bear repellant, hmmmm, let me write that down. 5 years from now, I would like to see the oceans of Defcon Acolytes flocking to the nearest watering hole to feast on our wings. Hey, one can dream, and most realities begin as dreams.
- What is your favourite sauce that you don’t make?
Well, to tell you the truth, I really don’t eat very many brands of sauce. I much prefer to experiment on my own with different ingredients and come up with all sorts of whacked-out stuff, a few really bad ones, but alas, some that reign supreme within our humble abode. There are some great products on the market, and some really cool people that make them, I just have never really gone out and bought dozens of bottles to sample. I pride myself on homemade formulas…Must be my Czech upbringing. My grandmother, who is now 92 (and the one to teach me the ZERO process) taught me at an early age to experiment in the kitchen, and I kind of ran with the ball, albeit not in a typical direction. Typical is common, common is boring, I don’t fit that mold, and when and if I ever do, just remove my brain stem.
- Do you eat the sauce you make?
I do. Mostly the #1 on steak. We do get some odd looks when we put a bottle or 2 of our stuff on the table. And of course anytime I make wings, we use the #2, and on special occasions I’ll do #1 wings (here’s to April Fools Day). We use a mix of the #1 and #2 as a shrimp marinade overnight, it comes out really good. We even have one rather unique individual who said the #3 is good on Wheaties…I’ll take his word for it.
- What’s a typical day like for you?
Well, perhaps it’s a typical day for most during the week. I am a financial analyst for a major flavor and chemical producer (imagine that). During the week I wake up, battle Jersey traffic to work, and perform my 8 hour corporate penance. Then, I get out of work, battle Jersey traffic either home or to a local drinking establishment, drink beer, fill the Defcon orders that came in the previous day (not with the post-digested beer), drink more beer, then go to bed. Oh yeah, and fit dinner in there somewhere. On the weekends however, The Creator arises from his slumber, traverses the hallway towards The Room, starts up the exhaust fans, and delves into the nether-world, The Defcon Maelstrom. This world is filled with various neuro-toxins in the form of capsaicin crystals in every nook and cranny. My usual day in this parallel world of concordant opposition starts off tweaking the ZERO process and moving each small batch to the next procedural step. By the time The Createss arises and enters this area, there is usually dry ice smoke hovering on the floor, death metal music screaming from the four corners of the room, and The Creator, under the black and infra-red lights, lab coat glowing, gyrating to not only the music, but attempting to quell the burn of capsaicin dust that has crept into every piece of clothing (use your imagination). To don a fully enclosed biosuit would perhaps avoid future burning, but would also detach me from the essence of the pepper, my ethereally conjoined twin. After the ZERO issues have been resolved, it’s time to open the ancient texts and begin experimenting. I then open a rather large cabinet full of beakers and flasks of many different rare, essential and pure oils, dried herbs and a 1/2 keg of grog. It’s amazing how far the imagination can go with that combination. Anyway, after a day of Nature bending, it’s off to the Silkwood-style decontamination shower. I try to do this every weekend (which of course doesn’t always happen). I must say, The Createss thinks I’m insane, I don’t care, I’m having fun, and she gets a pretty good laugh seeing me exit “The Lab” looking as if I have sunburn head to toe. It’s a true love of what I do, and the fact I can have fun whilst enjoying the epidermal pain that makes it more than just interesting.
- What input does the Homunculus have when it comes to your sauces?
Well, after our daily pondering of the intricacies of metaphysics with the plastic bobble-head, The Homunculus is off to his semi-private wing of the Defcon Compound. He plays a rather important part in our quest for global domination. The Homunculus harvests various cultures, and has recently become quite adept in the powers of mental suggestion, and is the overseer of our Gene-Bending and Psionic Development Lab. As has been discussed, he was recently “abducted” by a maniacal blogger. What this evil blogger didn’t know is it was all a ruse, and nothing more than a large scale mind domination experiment that was a complete success. ‘Tis a supreme means to a supreme end.
- What is your inspiration before you embark on a new encounter?
Hmmmm, I would have to say a few very good ales or lagers actually. My entire inspiration behind Defcon was to have fun, and believe me, we are. As I told my wife about a year ago when our company was born, “I will continue to do this until it stops being fun, when that happens, I close the door, look back, and remember what a great ride it was”. That’s our attitude, and it ain’t gonna change. We are having a blast right now, meeting all sorts of people we would have never met and going to places we probably would have never gone to. There really hasn’t been a downside since our inception, which was completely unexpected, and the fact we needed a co-packer within 6 months shows we must be doing something right. To really answer your question though, each day seems to come with its’ own new encounter to be thrust at us, so we don’t really have time to ponder the various inspirations, but we welcome them as they arrive.
- Outside of creating hot products, what else keeps you occupied or out of trouble?
Out of trouble? Perish the thought, that’s the spice of life, it’s all in the thrill of the chase. But what keeps me occupied? Many things. For one, I am an avid scuba diver as is The Createss, which also serves well as a secondary job for me in many aspects. I actually proposed to The Createss 40 feet under the water in Devil’s Grotto a few years back in the Cayman Islands. It’s a good thing she said yes, I really didn’t want to have to moor her to a rock after slicing her air hose, and then have to go all the way back to the boat before I chummed the water. Another major time consumer for the past 30 years has been competition shooting, both modern and antique firearms. Nothing like breathing lead fumes casting bullets for a musket, it tends to add character (and larger lymph nodes). Currently the BIG endeavor is actually an offshoot of Defcon Sauces. Hopefully by next year, “The Mustang” will be finished, and we will begin racing it around here at various tracks. Nothing like sponsoring your own racing team (Defcon Racing, what a rush!), not to mention what a tax shelter. I’ll keep you all updated as to when our racing days begin.
- Can you please dispel the rumours about your sauce containing cats as an ingredient and the U.S. Military inquiring about using your sauce in Warheads.
Cats are in integral part of the biosphere we live in called Earth. To knowingly consume them would be wrong, but unknowingly…Well, that’s another story. LOL! I would add that “The Evil Kitty’s” personality and attitude is what has been put into our products, and you’ve all seen the “Evil Kitty”. As for the Military inquiries, let’s just say the Defcon-ZERO may soon be transmuted into negative integers. That should make everyone happy, perhaps with the exception made to those who are on the receiving end of a multi-warhead.
- Any weird stories or uses for your hot sauce that you would like to share?
Well, I don’t think personal use being discussed here would please The Createss, so I shall refrain. As for what other people have used it on, I think deer repellant is one of the most original. We had a gentleman at a local drinking establishment who had a severe problem with deer consuming his garden every year. He bought a couple bottles of #3, put it into a pump spray bottle and coated his plants. Since the stuff is absolutely all-natural it didn’t harm the plants at all, and the deer haven’t returned in over a year (talk about an “all-purpose” sauce). We use some of our extracts as a squirrel repellant, one of the only things I’ve seen that actually works…Stupid little tree rats. The best is injecting some extract into a paintball and tagging a squirrel, and watching him go back to the nest. Talk about a mass exodus, great fun! People have put the #1 on their children’s thumbs to stop them from sucking on them. Well, this approach is not only questionable (DYFS anyone?), but personally I think they’re just indoctrinating a chilihead. One person put a few drops of ZERO onto the top of a candle below the wick at a party, needless to say the room was filled with individuals whose optic cavities were overflowing with saline solutions, and the fact they couldn’t find the reason for hours made it that much funnier. I don’t want to give any more off-color uses (for obvious reasons), but believe me, the list is nearly endless. Capsaicin is your friend, and great fun at parties!
- How much sauce do you make in a week?
Hmmmm, so as not to seem vague, I will humbly admit none, that’s what co-packers are for. As for new products however, our 2 gallon non-reactive pot is filled at least twice a week. My friends love being guinea pigs, and I am more than delighted to make them such. Many a tear duct have been filled after ingesting these creations, and The Creator, with his heart of gold is more than willing to keep feeding their pain. True generosity has no bounds.
- How many different recipes do you go through when developing a new sauce?
This question kind of has a couple of different answers. With the wing sauce, there were literally dozens. Each different formula varied a little bit. You have to understand, my test market was awesome. A bunch of drunk idiots sitting around watching football games. If the wings sucked, they’d be the first to tell you, and believe me, they did. Well, after a few years of tinkering, a good sauce was born, and we have stuck with it ever since. We also live by the adage “simplicity allows perfection to evolve”, and our evolution has become simply perfect, LOL. When it comes to the up and coming new products it’s hard to say exactly. You start with an idea and mix it up, slop the troughs for the guinea pigs, and wait for the results. I’m not ashamed to say we’ve created some stuff that has been absolutely heinous, but the more you experiment, the more knowledge you gain as to how certain ingredients react with others, etc. There is really no end to the learning curve when it comes to these sort of products, and to be able to continually perfect them is not just plain fun, but sometimes quite lucrative.
- How did you get started in the industry?
To tell you the truth, over a couple of beers with a good friend of mine. I had been making the wing sauces for years, and every year I would have many requests from friends to make some for their parties. The buddy of mine suggested I start a company and sell it. I personally thought he was crazy, but with the support of The Createss, and the allure of the complete unknown, we went for it. In hindsight, I wish I had started all of this 10 years ago. I had absolutely no previous experience in the food industry, aside from being a glutton at the surrounding steak houses, but we gave it a shot. With surprisingly low overhead we were actually able to turn a profit within the first 10 months of inception, something virtually unheard of with any true “start-up” company. Most of our expenses were legal (trademarks, company formation, etc.) and anyone getting into the industry should realize the following; Lawyers will suck your pockets dry very quickly (currency-based succubi). Make sure you use a lawyer with food industry experience. At first we didn’t, and were then socked with large bills resulting from them having to do the “research” on the food industry. This tip will save you thousands, trust me, it was a learning experience, a true lesson in life.
- What is your biggest challenge?
Actually, finding beer after 2 in the morning. Aside from that, it’s just getting the name out. We’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of our advertising free of charge, whether it be through university papers, local papers and magazines, etc. People will not buy from you if they don’t know how to contact you or find your product. Quite simple logic, but much more difficult to finish the algorithm. Advertising is not normally cheap, but remember, there are plenty of free ways to let people know you exist, be creative, I have, and humor definitely sells, a very helpful hint. Next year our plan is quite simple, Be Everywhere. From stickers on NASCAR cars to jumbotrons at NHL games, our plan is quite simple, as is our motto, “Future Rulers of Earth”.
- Any final words from the Homunculus or Maggie (The Createss)?
The Createss, being the relatively shy type, does not wish to add any words of wisdom at this time. She is my support, and is actually the one who perfected our logo. We had started using just the biohazard symbol, which of course was met with slight resistance from the FDA. I might actually have an empty bottle or two of the original label (MSK, they’re yours if and when I find them).The Homunculus only wishes to be “abducted” again so he can complete his experiments on The Huvason and all those who reside within the walls of The Casa Huvason Stronghold. In the mean time, his time will be spent within the crisper of the fridge in his mini Dr. Moreau lab, striving endlessly to complete his part in the global assimilation of the general populous. He bids you all good thoughts, and looks forward to implanting them.
Defcon Sauces, LLC
P.O. Box 720
Millburn, NJ 07041