People On The Move - Ed Bucholtz
Plain and simple, Ed Bucholtz loves hot sauce. Not your basic, run-of-the-mill tabasco, mind you; Bucholtz digs a spicy, flavorful condiment on just about everything he eats. Like everyone else, the Monmouth County resident was forced for years to deal with ordinary sauces – then, as people say, a door closed and a window opened.
Bucholtz lost his job in mid-2010. He was hanging out with friends, going to breakfast often. “Breakfast food is bland. I’ve always felt it needed more flavor. I don’t want to put ketchup on my eggs so, of course, I reached for hot sauce. But your typical hot sauce is garbage.”
That’s when he had an epiphany. He was lying in bed one morning thinking about – what else – hot sauce. He had recently met a woman (who eventually became his wife) and “didn’t want to come across as an unemployed loser.” He went out that day and bought a hot sauce starter kit and began playing with recipe variations.
“I started with a few chilis and bottles, shrink wraps, caps and mashes,” Bucholtz recalls. “Rather quickly, I came up with three great recipes. Friends tried them and wanted more. I asked my girlfriend which one she thought I should try to sell. She told me people like variety and said I should release all three for sale at the same time.”
So, in January 2011, he started handing out samples to friends and found a place to make the sauces at a business incubator at Rutgers. Bucholtz looks back at how his business grew from three bottles of sauce to the worldwide phenomenon it has become with the “chilihead” community. “I didn’t have a business plan. I figured I’d make hot sauce and sell it. I didn’t even think about how to sell it; I just figured it would sell.”
It did. Born to Hula found its way onto shelves at Dearborn Market and Sickles Market. Cayenne, Habanero Guajillo Pepper and Habanero Ancho became popular quickly with hot sauce lovers.
Born to Hula got a big break when Scottsdale, Arizona’s Vic Clinco, a guy who claims to own the world’s biggest hot sauce collection, found Bucholtz online. The king of chiliheads wrote three reviews about Born to Hula, the hot sauce community found out about it, and the rest is history.
Bucholtz hired a distributor to handle international sales and now makes the stuff in larger batches at Taste & Technique in Fair Haven. Born to Hula is a favorite among chiliheads in Germany, France, England, Denmark, Australia, Canada, Sweden and more. Bucholtz added more flavors to the hot sauce line, as well as savory salsa and delicious jerky. [Mammoth Beef Jerky/Habanero Ancho received a 1st Place 2017 Scovie Award in the snacks category.]
Born to Hula is a fixture at hot sauce events and contests throughout the US. Many of the products are award-winning recipes, and the Ghost of Ancho flavor recently picked up five Golden Chili awards in Texas. In fact, the popular sauce won Best Overall Sauce out of 502 contest entries.
Ghost of Ancho is a taste-tingling sauce that uses the infamous Ghost Pepper, which the Guinness Book of World Records recognizes as one of the hottest peppers in the world. “We add smoked Ghost Peppers to our Habanero Ancho Chili sauce, so you get the smokey heat of the Ghost with the sweetness of the Ancho chili,” says Bucholtz. “We made this sauce so you can taste all of the delicious flavors and enjoy heat.”
Many people want to know where the company got its name. Bucholtz was cleaning out a basement after a flood. Everything was destroyed except for an old photo of his father playing around with a hula hoop. The photo gave him an idea. Since Bucholtz is a fan of the musical group Queens of the Stone Age, the only obvious company name was Born to Hula, in tribute to their popular song.
The three original sauces, Cayenne, Ancho and Guajillo were all made to be mild to medium heat. “Some sauces out there are too hot,” Bucholtz observes. “Ours are spicy enough that a real chilihead would eat them, but not too hot to scare others off. For Born to Hula,” he says, “flavor is the key.”
Drew’s Bayshore Bistro, Keyport
Way too many to list
Restaurants that only serve Tabasco
THREE PEOPLE TO HAVE DINNER WITH
My father, my grandparents, my Aunt Michelle.