It's pretty simple. I just don't like vinegar. People who love it may not care much for Swamp Dragon hot sauces. They might still fall in love with Marvin the Dragon because he's so danged cute, but if they really need vinegar in their hot sauces, they'll have to move along.
I love hot. I love spice. I love seasoning, and I love what they do to great and simple foods. There's nothing better than a simple and perfectly cooked steak, but add some of your favorite seasoning, and it's transcendent. I once boiled lobster in crawfish boil. Amazing! I have enjoyed famous Louisiana brands of spices and sauces my entire life, and will continue to do so. But I find the older I get, the spicier I like stuff, and it got to where if I use the more well-known brands to the point where I get the heat I like, I'm bowled over backwards with that pickly smelling and tasting tartness that can just wreck a dutifully made and complex gumbo. I needed something else, some other way. I had this idea (I can't tell you what it is yet) for a way to stabilize a hot sauce without using vinegar. After a couple of years of research and some terrible attempts on my own in my own kitchen, I called my alma mater, Louisiana State University.
The university has a food incubator program, part of the Food Science Department in the Ag Center, that is designed to help local businesses and foster creativity. It was just what I needed. Marvin Moncada, Ph.D., assured me that my concept was sound. Then it was up to us to make something that was delicious.
Here's a picture of one of my attempts at home before calling LSU. Blech!
I cannot thank everyone at LSU's Food Incubator enough. I worked hand-in-glove with them for a couple of months, each try getting closer and closer to the goal of a delicious spicy sauce with zero vinegar. We all sensed that we were onto something special, and we all were very excited and energized. I learned an enormous amount working with everyone there.
Using that new knowledge and background, my wife and I got sort of intuitive with it on a Saturday afternoon at our house. The lab at LSU Food Sciences was all beakers and gram scales. My kitchen was measuring spoons, and slightly chilled chardonnay while my wife and I "worked" to find a sauce that lived up to my expectations. A little bit of this, and a little bit of that... a sip of wine... "It's not hot enough," my wife said. (She never like hot sauce before at all, and is back and forth about whether she likes spicy foods at all. Kinda strange that she wanted more heat, but OK.) We added a bit more of the other, then had another sip of wine. And eventually, boom!
We hit on something tremendous. We excitedly put a few ounces in a small squeeze bottle and headed to the TexMex restaurant down the street. We put it in the salsa. We put it in drinks. We put it on tacos. We put in on tamales. We couldn't get enough.
It added layers of complexity to the foods that weren't there before, and the heat was perfect. It also was strangely temporary. It didn't keep burning after you finished a bite. It swelled and filled the mouth, enticing endorphins, then it went away and left us wanting more. The color was gorgeous; the consistency perfect.
Swamp Dragon was born, and it is more than I ever hoped it would be. It is somehow greater than the sum of its parts, and it is something altogether unplanned in the heights of its achievements in flavor, texture, feel, and fun. I cannot wait to reveal the secret. I am currently pushing through regulatory due diligence at local, state, and federal levels, and we simply must wait on Uncle Sam's blessings before I officially release the Swamp Dragon and make it available for purchase. I cannot wait to share this sauce with you! I hope you get to try it soon!
Meanwhile, keep checking here at the site. Follow us on all the social media platforms you use (links at the bottom of each page on this website). Spread the word. Buy a t-shirt. Know that no one is pushing harder to house a Swamp Dragon in your kitchen than me. Thanks so much for your early support and enthusiasm!