2011 WoF Bloggers’ Round Table

This year we did not have Marilyn & Brian Meagher of HotSauceDaily/Weekly to moderate our discussion. I did my best to make this round table discussion a smooth, yet interesting and informative one, but I had some great people to assist in the flow of the table chatter. I hope you get a lot out of what we talked about; I think we hit on some interesting topics. Around this table we had Joe Bowen of thehotpepper.com and his daughter Alex, Scott Roberts of ScottRobertsweb.com, Joe & Linda Levinson of thehotzoneonline.com, Michael Hultquist of chilepeppermadness.com our very own reviewer extraordinaire Ryan Graub, and yours truly behind the Flip camera.

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21 thoughts on “2011 WoF Bloggers’ Round Table

  • October 5, 2011 at 10:03 am
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    Thanks for having me on the panel, everyone. The show was a great time overall, and I enjoyed talking about spicy foods with you.

  • October 5, 2011 at 1:08 pm
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    The entire segment regarding serving food at a booth for the different products got my attention. The Food Police came up too briefly. Buddha, not being as vendor, your insistence of the vendors having to serve food was a little hard to take. The crap a vendor has to do to jump through the hoops to keep the Gastronomic Gastapo happy is just plain insane. As a vendor, especially when traveling a distance, we have enough stuff to worry about, besides serving the correct aperitif for chicken. Perhaps we should offer a Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1957 to cleanse the palat before they move on to the next booth. Also, serving food at a booth automatically designates you as a vending machine (as the Fiery Food show has proven for years). We stopped putting ANY food (chips, etc) out with our sauces just because of the endless ‘grazers’ that just walk by dozens of booths, not even look at the company, take some food, and just keep walking.

    We do a number of smaller shows/farmers markets around here. We tried the with/without food challenge. Sales remained the same, but the cost of feeding the masses grew every week we put out food. We put out wings a few times as well, and more than not, people asked for them without sauce.

    As for the ZERO stuff, I DO enjoy watching other people’s pain and anguish, it allows me a deeper sleep the following night. Normally the people asking for the “hottest I got” are the ones who will buy absolutley nothing at the show, try all the hottest stuff for the price of admission, and leave their lunch in the bathroom, they deserve pain.

    In closing, I’d like to thank those who made the homecoming of the Homunculous possible. :_punk:

  • October 5, 2011 at 10:44 pm
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    John, I do not claim to be an expert, but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn the night before I said that, so…

    I just stated my thoughts, but as you stated I am not a vendor so I am speaking from outside the box, and can only give you my perspective from what I can see. As they say, all it is an opinion, and everyone has one. I can not sit hear and overstate it enough my lack of expertise on vending at a hot sauce show, but I still believe that you would be better served in forcing those that need a fix of your vial o’ evilness, that they need to have the Condition 1 first. I only say this because I believe in your product so much, I want to see those that have never experienced it, experience it. Even if it a means to an end for those dummies that only want the heat. If 1 person out of 50 dipstick lickers were to taste the #1 and fall in love with it, it is still a new customer, and you still get to torture them in the end.

    As for the food, well I understand the difficulties in the food police and the cost of doing it is extremely high. I think it is a huge investment, and with every sale, does it mean a future online sale as well? Only you know the stats on that. I merely state an opinion, and perhaps a very misguided one, and I totally respect your stance on everything you said. I do remember the time I met you at some bar in NJ, and I brought my friends with me. You served up some chicken with all 3 of your sauces, and it was because of this demo that my friends bought 2 of your big bottles, and has continued to buy your wing sauce. I am jus’ sayin’.(NJ accent) 😎

  • October 6, 2011 at 7:08 am
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    Not a problem dude, it’s your opinion. I’m just saying we HAVE served food at various smaller shows around here, and didn’t notice a distinct increase in sales at all. Like I said, the only thing that went up was the cost of the food. As for the stick-lickers, they aren’t there to buy anything from anyone, a vast majority of them are just there to try the hottest crap, and then leave the show. If you notice, when they leave, they aren’t carrying any bags with them.

    We may actually start charging $1 for a ZERO hit, it should weed out many of the grazers.

  • October 6, 2011 at 9:59 am
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    John, our thoughts during the discussion were a lot of wishful thinking on our part. Obviously we don’t know the logistics and costs behind the process and don’t know case by case and vendor by vendor what extra costs would be inferred.

    John, while I have your ear…er…eyes, here’s little story directly related to you: when hanging around your booth this weekend, I tried to coax a few suckers into trying some ZERO Sludge (hey, it’s always fun to watch). I was talking to a small group of people that I was unsuccessful at getting them burned Defcon-style. I previously saw them hovering around the booth for a few minutes (perhaps watching someone else getting burned?) and inquired them if they tried your wing sauces. They immediately responded with, “Oh God, no! They would kill us!” I sort of repeated my question, this time adding the adjective “milder” to the term “wing sauces”, but their reply to me was almost identical. I then explained that Defcon wasn’t only the stuff that would make them cry, but that you guys also make some of the tastiest wing sauces on the planet which included much milder varieties. While slowly walking their way towards another booth, one of the guys in that group said something along the lines of, “oh, I had no idea”, leading me to think that many people think that Defcon only deals with super-hot sauces and are totally oblivious to your Defense Condition wing sauce line.

    Would they have bought any sauce if they had been offered some DC #3 or #2? I have no idea, but this little incident made me think that a potential sale might have been lost if they had been informed that Defcon is more than just a flashy-looking booth manned by a crazy guy dressed in Mad-Max-meets-Matrix gear who dispenses scorching extract sauces.

  • October 6, 2011 at 10:57 am
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    That sort of instance is inevitable at any show. On the flip side of that, the spectators of the people in pain gets them to our booth, which they otherwise may not have stopped at because of the crowd in front of it. This is why we have a ‘side spot’ next to the booth, so I can get the “hottest you got” crowd out from in front of the booth selling our regular products. It has worked like a charm.

    There is no perfect algorithm, and we experiment a lot when it comes to the instant indoctrination when you pass by our booth. We the near perpetual crowd in front of our booth, I dare say it’s working for us. You will never get every single person to buy your stuff at a show, the idea is that the odds are better that they might, if you get them to stop for whatever reason at your booth.

  • October 6, 2011 at 12:22 pm
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    I’ll chime in a lil on the food aspect. Being VERY new to this (still call myself a hobbiest), I’ve done things differently EACH year at WoF with little change to the bottom line.

    The first year we served jambalaya and had more people eating, some coming back for seconds, then people buying. Jambalaya is cheap to make until you add the meat and being the first show ever we made a lot which was thrown out at the end. We also had wheat thins for people to try the sauce on.

    The second year we had spoons for sauce and chips for a dip made with the Voodoo Ash. Many people LOVED the dip but few bought the spice.

    This year, no food at all; just spoons. The difference? $30 less in sales then the previous year. What did it cost for the chips? Maybe $20 at Costco. So it was a wash. I also didn’t have people saying oh that’s sweet or too salty and me having to say it’s the chip you’re eating not the sauce.

    I think the biggest part of serving food is the actual hassle of preparing what ever it is you’re serving and then cleaning up. I had virtually no spills this year compared to previous shows where I needed to wash the table cloths halfway into the first day.

    All that said, I’m actually considering making a dish specifically with each product for next years show. It won’t be available for people to grab and go. We’ll see how it goes, Could be a bust or a boost…

  • October 6, 2011 at 1:04 pm
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    Nice job guys but video is super long. So it was mentioned that many people are not commenting on Blogs. Well if you have a super long video most will not watch it. So if not watched then no comments. Yes it is easier to comment on Facebook. Another reason there is less traffic to some Blogs is too many products are being reviewed. Before I get to watch a review another one comes up. I think all Blogs should charge a nominal fee like $10-$20 for a review this will filter out some of the Traffic and at the same time compensate you Bloggers for your hard work (editing, writing etc.) My comments on hot peppers in the mainstream. Two of the largest Specialty Produce Companies Melissas and Freidas package the Bhut Jolokia in clamshells across the country in markets. Problem is they fly most of their stuff in from Greenhouses in Holland. The Ghost Chile has a long growing season and looses a lot of flowers in extreme temps. Also production sucks. I am talking large field production not hobby growing. So I don’t ever expect to see it in bins at markets. It might do better in Caribbean or Central America but the Scorpions and 7 Pots grow easier so we may actually see more of them in markets first. I know it’s cheaper to grow peppers in Third World Countries. But Americans are not stupid. If your are a sauce maker beware because these other countries still use DDT and other nice poisons and our AG Dept gives them a free pass. Now I was just asked by a company to grow a variety here instead of them growing it outside the U.S. It boils down to they would rather pay more for a fresher chemical free chile. By the way I am growing for Melissas now so get ready to see Trinidads and other rare peppers in the market soon. I like your comments on products and mass produced products. After that video froze up. Overall a much better roundtable then the one you had at Peppers. Good topics, good feedback and Al only talked 20 minutes out of the 40 minute time period!

  • October 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm
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    I have the same issue with long comments as you do with long videos Jim.

  • October 6, 2011 at 2:03 pm
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    This was an excellent rountable. Great job guys. I cannot say how appreciative we are for everything that you guys do in the community. It looks like the food and products is one of the big discussions. We have found pros and cons to both. When we are at an event we usually do not use food or chips, only spoons. The reason we do that is primarily because of the different regulations from event to event. We are there to tell you about and hopefully sell a packaged shelf stable condiment and we want you to be able to try it. In most cases recipe cards along with vivid descriptions of what you can do at home is adequate. However at an in store demo we always do a food featuring products with a recipe card. When you can try something, like it , take a recipe card and the products used to go home and do it yourself it is perfect. I can’t count the times we’ve done pulled pork in a store and someone comes back with a pork shoulder and says “ok, which one was it you used.” So anyway that is our experience, stay away from food at events that have strict policy regulations, always make food for in store demos, use recipe cards or online recipe blogs and do your best to bring a dish to life with the power of verbal description.

  • October 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm
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    Too long? Perhaps, but I suggest that people do what I mentioned on Facebook: crank up the volume, listen only to the audio, and go about your day job work or housework. The time will fly by.

    Charging money for reviews? Not doable. I can’t guarantee that I can get reviews for products submitted now, and then you get people paying money and not see a review for months or even at all? Not fair for them. It’s also not fair because I will sometimes buy products myself for review. Why should a Taco Bell product I purchased in a grocery store get a free ride while ABC Struggling Startup Sauce Co. has to pay to get some exposure?

    Joe made a great point about the bhut jolokias. They’re not readily available in mass quantities yet, at least to provide a big dog like Doritos if they would chose to make a Ghost Pepper version of their snacks. Maybe in 5, 7 or 10 years, but not necessarily now.

  • October 6, 2011 at 2:44 pm
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    Defcon CREATOR, Clement, and Johnny…thanks for your feedback regarding serving your product with food. That’s exactly what us bloggers wanted to hear. We’re not always privy to all the costs a vendor runs into, especially when food is added. Food seems to work for some vendors (Cajun Island and BBQ vendors) so we didn’t know if anyone else had similar success.

  • October 6, 2011 at 6:46 pm
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    I didn’t find it to long, and it’s for your interest level. I put it one while i was working on web orders and they synched up great! I really love these. I know we’ve taken a lot of suggestions from several of you, so to get this insight is always awesome!

  • October 6, 2011 at 6:50 pm
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    You know what I’d like to do in 2012 but it would depend on the venue, cost and permits…Get two or three booths, in one we’d have our regular booth and in the other we’d actually just do live cooking demos and sampling every other hour or something….now that would be sweet because you can focus on 3-4 dishes a day.

  • October 6, 2011 at 9:29 pm
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    That sounds like an excellent idea, Johnny. I think a lot of people that attend these shows are chileheads. But, the rest show up cause it’s something they have never experienced and they might possibly wonder how to cook with the products that are out there. The more information to the masses might muster up more sales.

    Perhaps have a couple cooking demos from various makers per day where they can showcase their sauces while showing people a good example how to use their sauce. Perhaps we discuss this idea and approach Jungle Jims with the idea for next year.

  • October 6, 2011 at 9:47 pm
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    I like this idea, Ryan. It would probably take a bit of coordination, but could be interesting for the attendees. Not sure how easy it would be for the vendors, but it’s smart to show people they can do more than just dump hot sauce on their food (though there is nothing wrong with that!) I started off my earlier reviews by cooking the products into recipes. It was just hard to find the time to keep that up. Note to self: must do video recipes!

  • October 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm
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    You should steam some shrimp.

  • October 7, 2011 at 9:23 pm
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    I watch the whole video guys. But a lot of people won’t. Thats why making it a little shorter will get more views from those that have shorter attention spans. I am actually fine with it. And yes this was the best Blogger video roundtable I have seen so far.

  • October 8, 2011 at 5:41 pm
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    Great job guys! I especially enjoyed the part where you each listed some new products that you discovered at the show. Makes for a great list of new stuff to try, for those of us that couldn’t be there.
    Speaking of not being there, we really missed being a part of it all, but the coverage you all have posted makes up for it. ~brian and marilyn

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