Brodie Dawson, creator of Dawson’s Hot Sauce, was approached by the show last year for his “Original Hot” hot sauce, which was featured in the season’s 22 episodes; clearly, Dawson’s has made a name for itself since its inception in 2013.
Hot Ones, which just finished its 5th season, interviews a different guest celebrity each episode while they eat hot wings dressed in progressively hotter sauces.
“That has a lot of flavour,” said Charlize Theron after tasting the Hamilton-made sauce, which was 7th in line out of 10.
Since that episode aired in March, it’s no surprise that Brodie and his small team have been kept incredibly busy.
“Online sales increased 450% over the last year,” Brodie tells us, “and 4 or 5 times more wholesale volume.”
Of course, some of that growth was already in motion, but the show undoubtedly helped turn up the heat.
“There’s a lot of residual effects from the show too,” Brodie says, with people re-watching it and different clips being shared, like this one from the Toronto Star. “We’ve been busy bringing back old business as well as new.”
Only one year ago, the business was just Brodie and his dad Bruce. He now has 3 part-time employees, along with help from his girlfriend.
Everything is prepared, cooked and packaged in Hamilton, by hand, in a shared space. The ingredients come from warmer climates, including Mexico, the Caribbean, Vietnam, and the States.
“I’ve always been a hot sauce guy,” Brodie tells us, “but the ones I was finding in stores didn’t have the flavour I was looking for.” So he started to think, “maybe I’ll give this a go,” and began experimenting in his own kitchen with peppers he’d bring home from the market.
“There’s real food in this stuff,” he says, adding that a lot of generic hot sauces out there are too salty or vinegary, which can result in heart burn.
And he’s certainly come a long way from day one, when he started making cold calls to spread the word about his new business. It required some persistence, but eventually, smaller and medium-sized stores began taking the product on, and it spread from there.
This map on Dawson’s website shows how many stores and markets they’re now in all throughout the Golden Horseshoe and beyond. They also have a lot of buyers in the States, which Brodie says is likely where the Hot Ones interest came from.
“The longer you’re around,” Brodie shares, “you can validate yourself and your products’ quality.” With some celebrities now added to their list of positive reviewers, Hot Ones offered a unique kind of credibility. “It helps people see we’re the real deal.”
Along with the bold flavours in his sauces, Brodie attributes some of his success to a tenacious and dedicated attitude.
“Don’t break your own rules,” he explains. “If you’re going to set yourself out to do something, and then things start to work, it’s easy to cut corners in your ideas and how you want to do things, but I’ve been adamant about not doing that. Stay true to the image you want to represent, people will be attracted to that.”
So far, Dawson’s has 7 unique sauces available online, including flavours like Big Smoke Chipotle, Chocolate Chili Sauce, and Garlic Jalopeno. They also make 4 different varieties for other companies.
Brodie’s busy now working on some exciting additions, including an idea for different themed sauces on the website.
“Hot Ones was a great start for 2018, but it’s definitely not the end,” Brodie shares. “I’m excited to grow our presence in Hamilton, with a few ideas in mind!”
In the meantime, you can check out Dawson’s Hot Sauce here.