Nearly every hot sauce producer will tell you it’s the recipe, the peppers, or the aging process that makes each product unique. For Fry Your Mouth (FYM) founder Dane Wilcox, 28, it’s his family—with a dash of help from Reddit added to the mix.
Over the past year, Wilcox and his grandmother, Dami, have been cooking up hundreds of FYM samples after growing a few too many peppers years back.
“I don’t like drying food but I wanted to find something to do with them all so they didn’t just go bad,” Wilcox tells the Daily Dot. “Hot sauce seemed to be the way to go, so I threw a bunch of stuff in my crappy blender and boiled it for a bit—FYM 1.0.”
Wilcox and Dami produced the first batch of FYM in his Portland, Ore., home until April 25. That’s when Wilcox made three different posts on r/freebies, r/portland, and r/hotsauce, offering up free FYM samples.
Redditors ordered more than 2,000.
“Making all the samples for Reddit took eight people 11 hours to make the sauce and bottle it,” Wilcox says. “I worked from 6am to 9pm, every day after that for a week, labeling them and getting them into envelopes. A couple nights after work, my family offered to help with envelope stuffing, which was a huge help.”
The batch for Reddit features five types of fresh peppers, carrots for sweetness, and citrus, garlic, and onion for flavor.
While FYM is still in its infancy, you could argue that it started years ago, when Dami sparked Wilcox’s interest in cooking.
“I can remember when Dane was 9 years old and he would stand beside me when I was cooking,” Dami says. “He was always so interested in what I was doing and wanted to do it on his own. He is a great learner when it comes to cooking and trying new things, and is proud of what he cooks and how it tastes.”
FYM is, of course, not without its fair share of competition.
In the U.S. alone, the hot sauce market has spiked by more than 150 percent since 2000, outpacing BBQ sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard, Quartz reports.
While major producers like Tabasco have contributed to this growth, the boom in amateur hot sauce producers helped make it the eighth-fastest growing industry in the country in 2012.
Right now, Wilcox is working with a designer to further develop FYM’s logo. He’s still reading through hundreds of private messages on Reddit from businesses eager to get some FYM. He’s also going to reach out to grocery stores and restaurants in the next couple months to try to get his sauce placement.
“I think I owe that success to the original people in r/portland that tried it,” he says, referring to the subreddit. “I had very mixed feedback from the community [at first]. But about 15 people in r/portland said they would be my guinea pigs. When everyone that tried it came back and said it was awesome, I was pretty sure I had a hit. That gave me some confidence to decide that I actually wanted to get into the hot sauce business.”
Photos via Dane Wilcox