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Hot sauce business heats up

The Innovative Company was founded by three award-winning hot sauce entrepreneurs, who have just released their newest sauces, Radical Red and Deadman.


The Innovative Company was founded by three award-winning hot sauce entrepreneurs, who have just released their newest sauces, Radical Red and Deadman. Both sauces feature tasty roasted red pepper and deadly peri-peri peppers, said by some to be the hottest pepper in Africa. The striking labels for these two sauces were created by two New England artists, who won an Innovative contest—one artist remains anonymous but the other, John Belancik III, is the founder and creative force behind Paths & Pixels in Newington, Connecticut. These designers will be paid royalties for each bottle of their sauces sold. The Innovative Company partnered with the Connecticut Art Directors Club to create the label design contest, open to all New England artists.

“The peri-peri pepper used in these sauces is one of the most popular these days,” says David Ashley, owner of Ashley Food Company and an Innovative partner. “It’s the one that packs the punch underneath the roasted peppers.”

Peri-peri peppers—also known as birdseye peppers—grow wild in tropical Africa, where they are popular in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Mozambique. The peppers were first used outside of Africa by the Portuguese. They can reach 175,000 on the Scoville Scale, which measure the intensity of the heat generated in the mouth by hot peppers.

The Innovative Company has been producing and distributing private label sauces for small and large clients, including a successful line for the B&O Museum and a sauce for Save a Dog, a dog rescue organization. It has now produced its own sauces for a year.

“We wanted to do something different—and fun—with our labels,” says Chris McCarthy, founder of Insane Chicken another partner at Innovative. “An artist friend of David’s introduced him to the Connecticut club, and we decided to have them help us find real artists to design the labels.”

Belancik, who designed the sultry Radical Red label, says he decided to “push it to a place that was unique and would stand out from the labels currently on the market.” He came up with a redhead in a short skirt, garters and stockings, straddling a hot pepper. “Some may say it was a little ‘racy’ of an illustration, but it did its job with creating a buzz around the label.” Innovative hopes it will do the same in the marketplace. The Deadman label shows the chalk outline of a “murder” victim with a bottle of hot sauce near his hand and yellow crime scene tape above him.

“That’s a killer label,” says Charlie Schandelmayer, founder of Sauce Crafters and The Innovative Company’s third partner. “And so is John’s for Radical Red—though he kills you with…uh… love. It’s great having such creative people putting their stamp on our products. It makes us unique.”

The Innovative Company LLC is a partnership between David Ashley (Ashley Food Company, Chris McCarthy (Insane Chicken), Charlie Schandelmayer (Sauce Crafters), who have a combined 46 years of experience in the food business. We manufacture many lines of our own products and co-pack products for other companies, private label large or small account, and we store and ship products. We currently operate 20 web sites and will be adding several more in the near future.


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