I recently had the pleasure of getting to email a man. Not just any man, but a mans man. A man that men should be molded after.
That man, is Vic Clinco, owner of the largest privately owned hot sauce collection going, who I am dubbing “The Sauce Boss”. Vic has well around 6000 hot sauces in his ever growing collection.
Follow Vic on Instagram and Twitter: @pepperboy143
I was able to email Vic some questions to find out a little about his amazing hot sauce collection.
Here’s what I got.
As a hot sauce lover and maker myself, I have to say I’m a huge fan of what I’ve seen in the pictures on Instagram. When did you start collecting hot sauces, and how many bottles do you currently have?
Chef, I’ve been collecting for a little over 18 years now. My wife Wendy started me on it, she had bought me 12 bottles for a very first Christmas together. (I still have those original 12 bottles) That holiday season when friends and family came over, we would laugh at some of the funny and some vulgar labels, it sparked the passion. Shortly after that I came across a cool little book called “The Great Hot Sauce Book” by Jennifer Trainer Thompson. The book really opened my eyes to how many hot sauces were out there and that there were people like me who were collecting them. Jennifer’s book sparked the obsession!
I do not have an accurate number has to how many I actually have right now, it’s roughly right below 6,000 unique, factory sealed and different bottles from all over the world. I have some in storage with a friend, some enroute being shipped, some in my garage, along with the ones displayed in our dining room.
A collection of that magnitude must have have come with a heavy price tag over the years. Do you have an idea of how much has been spent on your marvelous collection?
That is a question I get a lot, Chef it’s really hard to put a monetary attachment to it. Over the years I have purchased/absorbed at least 8 other smaller collections, some I’ve been told that were years older then mine. I have bottles from companies that are no longer doing business and some sauces that are no longer being produced. I have promotional bottles for specific dated events, concerts and trade shows. I have a ton of limited edition small batch reserve collectable bottles that are hand signed and numbered. I have some bottles specifically made for me and for being in the collection. Also when I travel the hot sauce show circuit and meet new makers and producers, I have them sign/autograph their sauces for me… You can’t put a price tag on that. I have bottles I have paid .79¢ and I have bottles I have paid hundreds of dollars for. Also some of the reserve collectables have increased in value over the years, I have a couple that I’ve seen in the $1,500 to $1,900 range on eBay.
With such a great collection, do hot sauce companies send you complementary sauces, just to be a part of your collection?
Yes, all the time! BONUS! It’s great and very complimentary to me. The collection has gotten a lot of attention over the years, we’ve been on The Cooking Channel, ABC’s The List, and the Today Show. It’s been featured in magazines and on countless websites. I also am working with a media company in the UK who have been helping spread the word and doing features of it across the pond.
There are a lot of sauces in your collection, do you try all or any of the sauces you receive? If so do you have any favorites?
A lot like you said, I am a lover of hot sauce! I’ve not met many I don’t like, don’t get me wrong there are a ton of crappy ones on the market but they are far outweighed by some outstanding ones. Though all of the bottles displayed in the collection are factory sealed, many times, if it sounds interesting, I’ll buy two that way I get to try one. I have a lot of companies that send or give me bottles to sample also for input and criticism. That to me is the biggest honor of all. I offer my professional opinion on their taste, heat level and label design to help,them succeed. It’s a great industry to be involved in, I enjoy helping and being a voice for the industry to help it grow and flourish.
What is the hottest hot sauce you currently own?
The hottest hot sauce is actually in crystallized form, it is the Guinness World Record Holder by Blair’s Hot Sauce, extremefood.com. It’s is 16 Million Scoville Units. The hottest liquid extract I have is 11 Million Scoville Units, it’s from a company in Germany. It’s sick! It looks like tar and is flippen’ hot! Extracts were actually banned for retail sale in the UK, there are not many of them left. The company I work trade shows for, CaJohns Fiery Foods, cajohns.com has only a few remaining.
So as a point of reference, Scoville Units are the rating system for how hot peppers and sauces are, the higher the number the hotter it is. It basically is the amount of water partials it takes to disperse the heat. So police grade pepper spray typically ranges between 2 – 9 Million Scoville Units, pretty scary aye!
I’m a hot sauce guy all day long. Love it on eggs, in soups, pizza, you name it. I’m a Trappey’s Red Devil go to and my over all favorite food to put hot sauce on has to be Spanish rice. Do you have a go to sauce, and for you what is a food that is an absolute must to have a little sauce on?
Nice!! Let me tell you Chef, Trappey’s is one of the fore founders of the industry. An industry that was the 8th fastest growing industries is the US in 2012, there are literally tens of thousands of small batch artisan makers spread across the country. It’s amazing at the amount of options we have now though the big box grocers only show a small window to what is really out there. I suggest frequenting your Whole Markets, Farmers Markets and local grocers, they typically offer great local sauces. Your Farmers Markets generally have tables set up with samples and the ability to talk to and ask the makers and producers questions about their sauces.
Chef I eat hot sauce on EVERYTHING! I carry bottles of sauce and dried pepper powders with me everywhere I go. I actually put pepper powders on my coffee grinds and brew it into my coffee. I add it to my pancake and cookie batters and cook them directly in. I inject super hot sauces into my meats and burgers prior to grilling, Chef it’s an obsession with me.
As I mentioned earlier, hot sauces are a bit of a hobby of mine. I’ve been making my own for a number of years now, and people seem to enjoy them. Do you, or have you messed around with making your own sauces?
I do, I don’t make any to sell but I do make them for myself, for recipes to add to my article for Chile Pepper Magazine, and to give out as presents and such. I make a mean Blueberry, Apricot, Ghost Pepper sauce. We will have to exchange some recipes. Like I said I write a bi-monthly article called “Sauce and Tell”, it revolves in and around hot sauce, it’s origins and history, it’s usage and provide recipes and meals with my favorite condiment. It is an educational piece and also follows my growth as a Culinarian. One of the other things I do is to reach out to those small batch artisan makers and producers all over the country to have them provide recipes using their sauces, this gives them an opportunity to reach a national ChileHead audience and generate some buzz for their sauces.
What are you going to do when you run out of room where you are storing the sauces currently?
HaHa, another great question, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Right now the collection is creeping toward another room as we speak. I have no intention of slowing down or stopping anytime soon, it’s a quest for me. It’s sort of a Global Hot Sauce Domination if you will!!
Do you allow the public in to admire your collection?
And if so how could someone contact you to experience the sauce collection?
We do, it’s fun to share it with people. Like I said earlier we have had TV and newspapers over, I’ve shared pics all over the Internet but we really love walking people through it in person. The pictures are great but do not do the room justice, it is something completely different to stand in it and take in the sheer height of it, all the colors and unique shapes and sizes of the bottles. I have little trinkets displayed all over, it’s an experience to take in in person. We actually love Halloween, with families out trick-or-treating, we typically do 5-8 tours that night and we hand out little hot sauce packets or tiny bottles to the adults.
We have had a lot of people, some being hot sauce makers stop by when they are in Phoenix, they are always fun because they are in the industry and our collection is truly like a museum or a shrine to the industry.
Anyone can contact me on FaceBook- Vic Clinco, on Twitter- pepperboy143, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, I truly love to share our pride and joy with people.
Do you plan on even venturing into any other type of sauce collections, or any other type of collecting?
I have NO room! And beside I’m pushing my limits with my wife with this never mind doing anything else, well unless you let me and the collection move in with you! Though I have a shelf dedicated to Chile Pepper Beers and Chile Pepper infused alcohol, I think that’s as far as I will venture. Besides that shelf gets a lot of attention and I’ll pull from it when we have SPICY parties, that’s a tough one to not dip in to for obvious reasons!
I’d like to thank Vic for taking some time out of his day to talk about something we all love and enjoy. HOT SAUCES!!!!
Here are some links to enjoy!
Follow Vic on Instagram and Twitter: @pepperboy143