How the pueblo chile inspired a Colorado hot sauce company
PexPeppers Hot Sauce began with one recipe, and it snowballed from there
PexPeppers Hot Sauce | Pueblo | Product: Food & Beverage
Long before the Pueblo chile lured Garrett Peck to Colorado, his lifelong love of all things hot and spicy was amplified by a liver transplant in 2004. “When I had liver failure from 14 to 17 years old, hot sauce kept my mind off the itching,” Peck says.
But his recovery was far from smooth. “I was addicted to the drugs that doctors gave me prior to the transplant,” Peck says. “My life wasn’t exactly where it should have been. My friends and family were like, ‘What would that kid think of you that gave you that liver?’ So that kind of got me to really re-analyze what I was doing with my life. Basically, hot sauce got me clean, because I just devoted all of my time to making hot sauce, growing peppers, researching what others were doing, stuff like that.”
When he embarked on his manufacturing career in 2012, Peck started PexPeppers with one recipe, the habanero-and-honey HornetBOMB, and it snowballed from there. “I’m up to 18 sauces right now,” he says. The top sellers are Gold Rush, made with Pueblo Dynamite chiles, and the peach-habanero Cosmic Peach.
He uses local chile along with other hot peppers grown all over the country. “I try to have no fillers,” Peck says, pointing to hot sauces with carrots or bell peppers atop the list of ingredients. “You’ll never find those in my sauce as a thickener,” he adds. “When it’s a ghost pepper hot sauce, you better bet it’s going to be ghost peppers.”
Case in point: PexPeppers’ Tropical Revenge sauce is 63% Carolina reaper peppers, about four times the pepper concentration of top supermarket brands.
But back to the Pueblo chile: Peck first visited in August 2016 to get a look at where it was grown. “I fell in love with the place almost immediately,” he says.
He visited for a second time two months later, and relocated by the end of 2016. The peppers were a big part of the reason: “The Pueblo chile is the underdog to the Hatch, but in my opinion vastly superior.”
Sourcing Pueblo chile from Musso Farms, Peck is making his sauces at the Excelsior Food Hub in Boone, just east of Pueblo, as he transitions into a company-owned building (a long-shuttered tavern formerly known as The Rig in Pueblo) as a manufacturing space and storefront.
It’s all about meeting skyrocketing demand. “Sales have exploded like crazy,” he says.