Monday, March 20, 2017

Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce

A Spicy Piece Of Americana

I've always had a love-hate relationship with hot sauce.  Historically speaking, every experience I've had with the aforementioned condiment ended with me curled up in a dark corner of the room frantically searching Web MD to see if a human being can live a full life without a fully functioning colon.  Seriously, it ain't pretty.

Don't get me wrong, I like hot sauce.  I really do.  I like the flavor of the peppers, the richness of the spices, the tang of the vinegar, and the way it can add zest to a common everyday meal.  But that's not enough for me.  I have a dream.  My dream is to be able to say I love hot sauce.  Unfortunately, there is one specific thing that keeps me from saying that sentence out loud.  The heat.  Yes, I am aware of how crazy that sounds.  I mean, the word HOT is literally half the name of the product.  In my defense, there is nothing worse than the mind numbing, raging, and never ending level of heat that accompanies most commercial brands of hot sauce.  The kind of heat that no amount of ice or soothing beverages can erase.  It's especially disheartening when that level of heat is derived from a product that is meant to add flavor to your meal and not take away from it.

When representatives from Gringo Bandito contacted MenuManiacs to sample their products,  I said yes immediately because I'm a food blogger.  However, my past issues with hot sauce made me a little nervous so I figured I should ask for help with this endeavor.  I recruited about 10-15 people to participate in a hot sauce tasting, and they gave me great feedback.  I also sampled Gringo Bandito's products myself, and I am happy to say I survived with my colon intact. 

Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce Tasting

The Products

Gringo Bandito has three varieties of hot sauce:  Original Red, Green, and Super Hot.  There are several key elements that make Gringo Bandito's products so successful.  They focus on great taste over pure heat as a way to increase both the flavor and enjoyment of food.  They use hand chopped peppers.  They are all natural and contain no preservatives.  Gringo Bandito appeals to health conscious consumers by using 70% less salt than their competitors, they are Paleo diet friendly, and they are Gluten free.  

If that's not enough to pique your curiosity, I urge you to buy a bottle just to read the nutrition information and label, if for nothing else.  I'm not sure who's responsible for the verbiage on those labels, but I want to give that waggish and witty marketing maestro a low hug.  You know, in the least creepy way possible, of course.

Results Of The Tasting

The reviews of the tasting were interesting and varied.  There was an overwhelming amount of positive reviews with the most negative comment being something along the lines of "not my favorite but still good."  I think that's pretty darn impressive if you ask me.

Original Red

Original Red is a mild sauce best used for adding flavor to your favorite dishes.  Made from habanero, jalapeno, and red Japanese chilies, this was the favorite sauce overall.   People praised the aroma, the taste, and the deep flavor profile of the sauce.  There were several suggestions of having an Original Red Mild and an Original Red Hot.


The Green sauce is made from unripened habaneros instead of tomatillos and although it is considered mild, it is a mid-level hot sauce with a little more heat than Original Red.  Gringo Bandito considers this a "niche hot sauce" for those people looking for a unique type of green sauce.  This sauce had the most varied comments.  Many people called it the most "versatile" sauce, and the most compelling observation was the fact that it was viewed as the best sauce to cook with but not necessarily the best sauce to add to your already prepared food. 

Super Hot

The Super Hot is made from Jolokia Ghost peppers and Scorpion peppers.  There are no additives so although it is spicy, it still maintains the flavor.  Don't be afraid of this sauce, people.  Although it is the hottest sauce they sell, it is still consumer friendly.

That being said, there was a lot of bribery involved in getting people to try the Super Hot.  Mainly because people share my fear of the heat level that comes with a product labeled Super Hot.  I'm happy to say the reviews were quite positive.  Aside from the occasional, "Whoa!" and "As soon as I stop hiccupping, I'll report." there were several people that stated the Super Hot was their favorite.


After the tasting, there was a 50/50 split between people who thought The Original Red was actually hotter than the Super Hot.  In my opinion, I believe there is a distinct difference between spice and heat.  When I tried the Original Red, the initial rush of heat was intense but the heat faded quickly.  Also, I felt the heat was derived from the spices more than the peppers themselves.  On the other hand, the first taste of the Super Hot was packed full of the richness and earthiness of the peppers.  The heat built slowly in a kind of secondary wave and lingered for a considerably longer period of time.  My ah-ha moment regarding the Super Hot sauce was the fact that even though it was a very hot sauce, it was tolerable.  No heartburn.  No stomach ache.

This is why I believe Dexter and the rest of the peeps at Gringo Bandito have accomplished what they set out to do -- successfully prevent the heat level of the sauce from overshadowing the vibrant flavors of their three sauces.  Well done, Gringo Bandito!

Surprisingly, I was able to handle the heat of their sauce without pain or misery.  That is everything I've ever wanted in a hot sauce.  In fact, I have since used Gringo's sauces on a wide variety of foods.  I use it to make my tuna fish salad, I use it on burritos, and I've even been known to sprinkle it on plain popcorn as a snack when I curl up on the couch to watch Idle Hands on Netflix. (See what I did there, Dexter?)

The Company

Gringo Bandito is the brainchild of Dexter Holland, the vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the multi-platinum punk rock band, The Offspring.  The band has released such hits as Self Esteem, Pretty Fly, Why Don't You Get A Job?, and Gotta Get Away.

Dexter grew up in the Southern California area where the Hispanic culture was a large part of his life.  He loves the Mexican culture, and what would Mexican culture be without fantastic food.

So why hot sauce?  Dexter wanted to do something fun.  He's a bit of a hot sauce aficionado and over time, he came up with a recipe that he really liked.  As he says, "What kind of company should I start?  Life's too short to make socks."

Today, after more than a decade of making hot sauce, Dexter and the rest of the Gringo Bandito team stay motivated by keeping things interesting and fun.  They built their brand to make quality hot sauce for consumers that appreciate the Mexican culture and food as much as they do.

They have many exciting upcoming plans for the company, and they are currently focusing on increasing their retail distribution across the country.  Currently, Gringo Bandito is in over 7000 stores and is growing at an incredible rate.  They can be found in Whole Foods, Kroger, Albertsons/Safeway, and can be ordered on Amazon.  Wahoo's and Chronic Tacos serve their sauces at all locations as well. 

The one thing they want people to know about Gringo Bandito is that even though they are a relatively small company based out of Huntington Beach, California, they take great pride in their community.  They are influenced by the Mexican culture and they try to lock that authentic taste in their sauces.  Their one goal is to make full bodied hot sauces which are known for their quality taste over their heat level.  

That sentence alone is what allows me to finally say the following out loud: 


There, I've said it and I feel better for it.

So, what is Dexter's favorite hot sauce?  Here's your answer.  "Well, obviously I started Gringo Bandito and I love all our hot sauces.  The Super Hot is my favorite at the moment, but I'm a hot sauce fan.  That's why I got into this.  It doesn't have to just be Gringo.  I don't say stuff like our hot sauce is great and everyone else's sucks!  I love most Mexican and Caribbean style hot sauces and I think there's room for it all."

I would like to thank Dexter and all the folks at Gringo Bandito for giving me the opportunity to try their products, and I look forward to watching your business grow.  Rumor has it there is a taco seasoning in your future, and I can't wait to see what new products you crazy kids come up with next!

Photo Credit - Ben Reutter

Tracy Schroeder is a blogger for MenuManiacs and author who thrives and survives in the great state of Colorado. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Angelic Imports - GOUFRAIS

Gerade ├╝ber die beste Schokolade ├╝berhaupt !!!

Once again, we first discovered Goufrais and the gang at Angelic Imports at Choctoberfest a few years ago.

Not only are they a local Colorado company but they are also a Veteran and woman owned business!  It's like the perfect storm of awesomeness!  Angela and Tonya are amazing people with an even more amazing product.

There isn't much to say about this company and their product except it's perfection.  The quality and creaminess of the chocolate is incredible.  The product itself is a cross between a truffle and a chocolate meltaway with an added bonus of a rich, cocoa powder dusting.

That description really doesn't do it justice.

Actually, it's like the universe extracted the adorableness from kittens and puppies, the perfection and innocence of the angels, and the abs of Channing Tatum and then mixed them all together in a martini shaker over crushed ice and served it in the beauty of the grand canyon with a 24 karat crazy straw.

Somehow that doesn't work either.


Maybe it's best to have the owner Angela Burth, PhD and retired Colonel of the United States Air Force describe the company and product with...

Five Questions From The Maniacs...

1.  What inspired you to start this business? 

Goufrais is an exceptional product loved over in Germany and all over Europe, especially by the US military.  It wasn’t available in the United States and I decided to change that.

2. What keeps you motivated?

I like building and developing ideas, organization and tackling problems and have so since I was young.  Goufrais puts a smile on people’s faces and the responses are amazing and fun.  The stories that we hear and the Thanks we get for bringing Goufrais to the USA are awesome an rewarding.  For example, this holiday season one family ordered so that they could remember their son lost in February who always sent them Goufrais from Germany.  They thanked us personally for making Goufrais available.  A couple of years ago I was called Colonel and soon thereafter Doctor when I finished my PhD.  Now when I walk in the room smiles ignite and everyone says The Chocolate Lady is here.  I think I got a promotion!

3.  What are your plans for the future?

Continue to develop representation for Goufrais across the country to make the product sustainable in the U.S.

4.  Why Chocolate?

Goufrais provides something amazing that wasn’t available here in the U.S.  As I suggest on my website, I’m not even a chocoholic!

5.  What does "Goufrais" mean?

Goufrais is the unique brand name developed by the manufacturer.  He wants the connotation of the name Goufrais to reflect  the “silky smooth cool treat”

Be sure to visit their website and place an order today.  They will ship the product on ice anywhere you would like it to go.

To Angela and Tonya and all the rest of the women at Goufrais, we thank you for all you do.  We look forward to seeing you at next year's Choctoberfest.

To all our Maniacs out there, we here at MenuManiacs wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.