Posted November 13, 2006 by ChileHeadEd in Makers

Meet Your Maker #18 – Mad Dog’s David Ashley

I met with David Ashley at his home office in Massachusetts. He has his office in his basement where hot sauces are everywhere, prototypes samples, cases of Mad Dog of every imaginable flavor are piled in the entry room and there are shelves of sauces outside the door to the office”¦.

Why Hot Foods? And what was your first sauce?
I made my own BBQ sauce for years and my friends kept telling me I should sell it. My first sauce was my Original Barbeque but I noticed people wanted the hotter sauce, the hottest sold the best. I saw the writing on the wall and made hot sauce. My first hot sauce was Liquid Fire.

What is your favorite product you make?
It is a toss up between Green Amigo and Hot Teriyaki.

Any new products we should be ready for in your line?
Next Year I am going to be coming out with a gourmet sauce, not hot, I am trying to extend into other areas.

Where do you see the future of hot sauce in 5 years?
I see the Hot Sauce market continuing to grow. It has changed over the past years going main stream into supermarkets and then pulling back into specialty type stores again. It is ever changing.

What is your favorite sauce you don’t make?

My favorite that I don’t make is Sriiracha hot chile sauce, it has a great flavor and I really enjoy Thai and Mexican foods

Do you eat the foods you make?
Some, I eat a lot of my sauces, but not a lot of the super hot.

What is a typical day like for you?
I drive my son to school, walk the dog, check my E-Mails, Do the internet orders, return phone calls, write letters and send fax’s to the production plant.

What was your best burn ever?

While I was creating Habanero 750 I tasted some 1.6 million extract

Worst burn ever?
I am not stupid enough to have had a worst burn. I look at stuff before I taste it and use a toothpick in the proper situations!

What sets you aside from the other hot food makers and their products out there today?
I think what sets me apart is that I only use quality fresh ingredients. My sauces are all about flavor, not only are the sauces hot, all the sauces I make taste good!

What is your inspiration before you embark on a new concoction?
The idea for inferno came to me in a dream, but most of my sauces come from ideas I throw around for a while. Then after the sauce is perfected I think of a name and a label for it.

Outside of creating hot products, what keeps you occupied or out of trouble?

Being a father keeps me busy and taking care of my aging Chocolate Lab, Bear. I took Bear for an hour and a half hike today; it keeps us both in shape!

Any weird stories or uses for your sauces you would like to share?
(and this is where the interview got good!)
There are a few, some people use it as a skunk or deer repellant.
There is a 80 Year old woman in Kansas who buys a bottle of inferno every month!
When the Habanero 750 first came out I was told people were putting it on women’s nipples and licking it off as “nipple shots”.
(And the best story”¦) One time at the packing plant we were tasting some new sauces and I had brought some vanilla ice cream to cool “the burn” of all the hot sauce tasting we were doing. At the end of a long day the plant manager asked me to go upstairs before I left, I was reluctant but he insisted and when I entered the upstairs office there was the Head Mixer with his (member) in a cup of milk trying to cool it off, he had apparently gotten some extract on his hands and well you can figure it out!

How many different recipes do you go through when developing a new sauce?

It took 6 or 7 years to perfect my BBQ sauce, 50 tries and about 6 months for the inferno but the 357 I hit just right on the first try.

How did you get started in the industry?
I made home made BBQ sauce for years, I was a partner at Alice’s Restaurant (THE Alice’s restaurant immortalized by Arlo Guthrie, you can get anything you want except Alice), my friends kept telling me I should sell my sauce and so I did.

What is your biggest challenge so far?
Finding new customers, there is a lot of turnover in this business.

What is the most common question you get?
What is the Hottest sauce you have?

What do you want to know from the readers of the HSB?
What kind of sauces would you like to see?

Along with David’s co owning Alice’s Restaurant, he has several ties to the Rock and Roll world. His company initially made and packed Joe Perry’s Rock your world hot sauce and Bob Weir’s line of sauces. In 1977 David was around the band Led Zeppelin in New York while they were on tour in the United States.

We finish the interview with a tasting of Mad Dog’s Revenge 1 million scoville hot and a tasting of a 1.6 million scoville extract, David plays the harmonica while Bear, the big brown lab howls along”¦.

David Ashley

Ashley Food Company, Inc.
P.O. Box 912
Sudbury, MA 01776
Toll Free: 800 – 61- SAUCE
Fax: 978-579-8989
Office: 978-579-8988
Contact: David Ashley