The General’s Hot Sauce is a South Carolina-based company that manufactures a premium, gourmet, small-batch hot sauce. Their story is a little more exciting than just spicy sauce—they’re U.S. Military veterans, they make hot sauce using only American-grown peppers, and they sell their sauce in a distinctive glass hand grenade bottle. Founded in 2013, the company is decidedly apolitical, with a precise focus on their founding purpose and mission–to give back a meaningful percentage of profits to help military and veteran families.
Co-founder and CEO, Dan Ballister said, “We knew when we started the company that the world didn’t need another boring hot sauce, so we set out to create a product that was of high quality, great purpose and mission, and gave us a chance to give back to military veterans.” Ballister, who served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the United States Navy, graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland where many of the founders first met.
After years of research and product development, Ballister and fellow investors decided they would source their peppers from the only place that made sense— The American Farmer. The industry standard is to purchase large amounts of pepper mash from overseas brokers. This mash is heavily salted, and often from countries with lax EPA enforcement. Once those mash barrels are emptied, they’re cut with filler ingredients like way too much vinegar or gallons of water, and then thickened back up with pectin and xanthan gum. This combination of ingredients means that every bottle of your standard, off-the-shelf hot sauce has roughly only 20% actual peppers in every bottle. At The General’s Hot Sauce, the team makes a small-batch product that is an incredible 86% American-grown peppers in every bottle—no water, no fillers, no thickeners, just a high-quality pepper sauce with plenty of flavor and heat.
So why the glass hand grenade bottle? If you’ve ever taken a stroll down the sauce aisle in your local food market, you’ve probably never come to a complete stop to catch a glimpse of a really impressive piece of glassware. The industry’s views on bottles are quite simple— whatever is cheapest and easiest to mass-produce. The General’s Hot Sauce wanted a bottle that both highlighted the military/veteran background of the company and commanded the attention of customers everywhere. The bottle is based off the Mk 2 (pronounced “Mark 2” ) fragmentation grenade, also known as the pineapple grenade, which was in service from 1918 to the late 1960’s.
The General’s Hot Sauce is more than just a cool name. The founders wanted to start a company that could give back to veterans, but the idea for hot sauce was for “The General” himself. A close friend of many of the founders, The General would spend every Army Navy tailgater cooking up Buffalo wings for anyone who wandered in–so as an homage to his service, a name and idea was born. The General’s Hot Sauce continues to grow and serve, shipping product to all 50 states and 15 different countries, and keeping to their mission to give back and honor the legacy of all military members who came before them.