Meet the Makers: Torchbearer Sauces
More and more people are getting to know the wonderous world of hot sauce, but most don’t know much about the creators of these delicious sauces. Who are those heroes behind the brands that spoil us with the best hot sauces? We are about to find out in our interview series ‘Meet the Makers’.
We have already said in our hot sauce reviews that Torchbearer Sauces is one of the better hot sauce makers on this planet, but when you realize that there are no less than 5 different Torchbearer sauces used in Hot Ones, it speaks for itself. The brand from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania is known for the cool cartoonish labels, but also for their often creamy and very hot sauces. Our 10 questions have been answered by owner Vid, so let’s just dive right in!
When & what was your first hot sauce experience?
During a going away party right after high school, everyone was eating fried chicken and a friend decided to break out some ridiculous extract sauce. Said friend and I doused our chicken with it and the spicy food addiction immediately took hold. Thankfully, while the heat was welcomed, I understood (especially with that less-than-delicious sauce) that flavor was the real secret.
What made you decide to start your own brand?
Years later, myself and my friend Ben (who would later become my business partner), each had a crop of habanero peppers we had no idea what to do with. Taking all those peppers and bottling them with some carrot, mandarin orange, and onion to preserve them, ended in the first sauce created for the company; Super Fancy Sultry #7. Family and friends couldn’t get enough and we were convinced it might be time to try to sell our concoction.
How did you come up with the name of your brand?
I had a photography and video production company named “TorchBearer” that was too perfect to not use. I switched from visual media to sauce and TorchBearer Sauces was born.
What is your favorite ingredient to work with?
Definitely garlic. Near the beginning we created a completely mild garlic aioli called Oh My Garlic that made a huge splash and has continued, throughout everything we’ve done, to be always in the top 3 most popular sauces. We even used it as the base in our best-selling hot sauce ever, Garlic Reaper. Garlic has always been our (garlic) bread and butter!
What does your working space look like?
We started in 2005 hand-filling bottles from a container with two spouts screwed into it, hand capping, hand sleeving, melting sleeves with a heat gun, labeling with a hand-operated crank labeler, and boxing and taping one case at a time to what you can see in the photos. We’ve taken every bit of help, advice, government grant, and profits from shows and web sales to get this amazing warehouse/kitchen we have now. It’s truly incredible when you step back and think about it.
What is the ultimate highlight up until now?
We’ve had a ton of amazing things happen throughout the years but the one thing that really stands out is the Shaq episode of Hot Ones where he held up our bottle of Garlic Reaper and proclaimed that he was scared of it. The stills we have of him holding it up and the response we got from fans and friends was amazing. Plus, I mean, it’s SHAQ! How cool is that?
What is your favorite hot sauce from another brand?
This one is tough because we are fanatics about trying every sauce we can when we are at festivals and shows and there is a TON of great sauces out there. If I had to choose, I would say Haunted Harvest from Fraktured is at the top with Black Eyed Susan’s Timebomb right behind. I just keep coming back to these time and time again.
Do you have a favorite cultural hot sauce reference (in music or tv/film)?
The atomic pepper scene in Dumb and Dumber is definitely memorable…
What is your favorite music for when you’re making/eating hot sauce?
It’s hard to pick just 5 as we always have the speakers blasting on production days and we listen to everything from NKOTB to Nekrogoblikon and everything in between. We had a day once where we listened to nothing but Cher and another where we suffered our way through Nickleback’s entire discography. I guess when you make stuff that hurts people for a living it’s only fair to torture yourself too.
Name 1 food + (your own) hot sauce combination our followers just have to try.
There’s dozens and dozens of recipes up on our website that we’ve come up with over the years so there’s no shortage of things we make with our sauces. If I had to pick one that everyone should try, I’d probably say our Garlic Sauce Creamy and Zippy Spinach Dip. It’s easy, quick, great for parties, and addictive as hell. You get that creamy dip goodness with just enough heat to surprise you but not so much that it scares anyone away.
We would like to thank Vid again for answering our questions and of course for making great hot sauce! Here you can find all Torchbearer hot sauces. Want to read more stories behind the sauce makers? Check out all our ‘Meet the Makers’ interviews here!