Posted January 3, 2005 by Nick Lindauer in Hot Sauce News

Hot sauce with an attitude

EXETER – If you haven’t had Rhode Island Red hot sauce then head over to your local supermarket, grab a bottle and experience the taste.
The red and yellow label with Vincent the Rooster says it all – “hot sauce with an attitude.”
This is the first of three new products on grocery store shelves throughout the state created by Aimee Fontaine and Linda Kane of Sauce on the Side Productions, based in Exeter.
Rhode Island Red hot sauce will “enhance, not overpower your food,” says Fontaine, editorial assistant at the East Greenwich Pendulum who lives in Exeter.
“We call it sweet heat,” says Kane of North Providence, a chef for more than 20 years. “It certainly has a kick to it.”
The women met while they were working at Johnson & Wales University in Providence where Kane is still employed.
At a casual dinner two years ago, they started talking about different ideas for businesses.
Kane, who owned Companatico, a lunch and catering business in Providence, already had a recipe.
“I just like hot sauce. We used to try them all the time,” recalls Kane, a self-proclaimed hot sauce aficionado. “I thought, I can make this. I had an idea of what it should taste like. There’s almost a secret underground cult of hot sauce aficionados.”
Kane and Fontaine searched Rhode Island and surrounding states for a production facility. There were few to choose from and, of those, no one would use all fresh products.
“It was really important that we stuck with natural ingredients,” says Fontaine. “The hardest part was having the recipe. We took it step by step.”
The sauce is laden with peppers, tomatoes, carrots, spices and seasonings.
Kane describes it as “kind of like a salsa” and “pulpy, unlike other hot sauces that are thinner or smoother.”
Good luck finally came when Kane e-mailed the owner of Dave’s Insanity Sauce, who recommended three places to contact.
The women settled on Stello Foods in Pennsylvania.
“It’s family-owned and we came to a great business relationship,” says Kane.
The mild sauce appeared in the market in March 2004 and the hot sauce followed two months later.
During the last 10 months, the women, who do the marketing, say they’ve sold 200 cases (12 bottles per case).
Fontaine, a wife and mother of two young sons, loads the boys in her Caravan and drops off bottles of hot sauce at local stores.
Lisa Garbutt who works for a design firm in East Greenwich created the label and Linda Tucker from that town made the Rhode Island Red rooster.
The sauces can be purchased at numerous stores including Stop & Shop, Eastside Marketplace, Whole Foods, Oop stores, Belmont Market, Dave’s Marketplace and T. F. Green Airport.
The suggested retail price is $3.95 to $4.95 at supermarkets and $4.95 to $5.95 at specialty markets.
Hot outsells mild 2 to 1, the women say.
Fontaine stresses that hot sauce can be used in recipes instead of just pouring it on foods.
It accentuates the flavor of vegetarian chili, Arrabiatta sauce (a spicy marinara sauce), grilled fish and Mexican foods, among other things, she says.
“It has such a nice flavor,” adds Fontaine. “The hot is hot but not burn-in-your-mouth hot.”
New products in development are Cowboy Ketchup coming out in the next few months. It promises to “give your burger a Southwestern kick in the buns.” And, Stuffie Joe’s seafood sauce, due out by late 2005, that will “make all our food as happy as a clam.”
Fontaine says that future plans are for a cookbook and salad dressing line.
“That will be a crossroads,” she relates. “Right now, we’re focusing on this and the products in the next year. We’re also putting together proposals for television spots.”
Kane says it’s difficult for small businesses to find distribution. But, the women have kept at it.
“The great thing about our partnership is we motivate each other,” Kane adds. “We’d like to continue to grow and continue to have fun in the process and enjoy the process. That’s something people forget.”
To order hot sauce, logon to www.sauceontheside.com.

Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog