Posted February 20, 2005 by Nick Lindauer in Hot Sauce News

Swampscott man turns passion for sauce into business venture

By Debra Glidden
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
SWAMPSCOTT – It’s hot and it’s one of the best-kept secrets in town.
The Swampscott Sauce Company is a “microbrewery for hot sauce” that Shawn Callahan concocted in the kitchen of his Swampscott home.
“I always liked hot sauce. I worked in sub shops in high school and college,” he said.
Callahan, a 1987 graduate of Swampscott High School, said he purchased a marinade recipe book in 1996 and started experimenting with marinades and sauces.
“I guess you could say I’m an idea man. I began experimenting and made test batches. I started dreaming of starting my own sauce company,” Callahan said.
And he did just that, founding the Swampscott Sauce Company.
“If you’re like me, you’re a big fan of your local microbrewery,” Callahan said. “You love high-quality beer, the kind with a distinct flavor and personality. You like it because they make it in small quantities, adding equal part hops and love.”
Callahan has taken the microbrewery philosophy and transferred it to cooking.
“Making, bottling, and delivering sauces to a local audience
is the key to a successful MicroSauce company.
“It’s our mission to offer high-quality sauces with all-natural ingredients, without additives or preservatives. I cut my own vegetables by hand and unlike most other companies I don’t use dehydrated onions,” he said.
Callahan said he initially tried to find a professional chef to cook up the hot sauce and get the company off the ground.
“One day I was simmering one of my test batches. I was enjoying the sound of my wooden spoon against the stainless steel pot and decided that I didn’t need a professional chef. My background as a short-order cook and dedication to learning the craft of sauceology would be enough,” he said.
After a year of reading everything he could get his hands on about sauce preparation, his business idea was cooking and it was time to open the Swampscott Sauce Company.
Callahan, who works for a Beverly firm that creates packaging for Atari Video Games, said he has reached the point where the company is not losing money, but he admits he isn’t making money yet either.
“I haven’t quit my day job but someday I would love to be able to do this full-time,” he said.
Callahan, who has a degree in marketing, said he had enough sense to know the name Shawn wouldn’t stick in anyone’s head, so he decided to go with his nickname from college, Stumpy, for use on all marketing campaigns for his Swampscott Sauce Company. He would not say how he got his nickname.
Callahan’s sense of humor has been a useful marketing tool. He described his Devils Breath Jalapeño Pepper Sauce as a “fiery blend of jalapeño peppers, tomato puree, and spices” that will “show you what it’s like to French kiss old Lucifer himself!”
Callahan offers free delivery to Lynn, Nahant, Swampscott and Marblehead.
“The orders will be delivered by our sauce runners, handpicked professionals trained in the art of sauce delivery.Actually, I do most of the delivery myself,” he chuckled.
For a small delivery charge he will also deliver to Salem, Peabody, Beverly, Danvers, Middleton, Saugus, Lynnfield and Revere, but you’re going to pay with cash or check.
“We want the bill payer of the family to keeps tabs on the MasterGriller, who, out of love for our products, would buy a ridiculous number of sauces every month if we accepted credit cards,” Callahan quipped.
Prices range from $4.50 for a bottle of hot sauce to $48 for a gift set with an assortment of eight bottles of hot and BBQ sauce.Orders may be placed online at http://www.swampscottsaucecompany.com/index.html

Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog