DEFCON-versations – Nov ’15

Defcon Trailer

Welcome. This is the first installment of the Defcon Creator’s op-ed section. My monthly addition will contain my own ramblings, reader beware! It will discuss various facets of the hot sauce industry, as well as different perspectives on things going on within the industry as a whole, trends past and present, and things I’ve noticed and will comment on. In other words, you’ll never know what I’m going to say. Those who know me know I am never at a loss for words.

Feel free to contact me at jo**@de**********.com if you’d like me to discuss anything in particular, or for any comments regarding this section. I can’t guarantee I will know a ton of stuff about everything, but will give it a shot.

As many of you know, my radio show, DEFCON-versations, has been put on the back-burner for now. There is just too much stuff going on right now, and when the radio show is active, I want to give it my full attention. Perhaps many of you can relate to parts of your life being stupidly busy, well, I’m dealing with it now. Will the show return? Absolutely! I’ve already written about 10 show formats already, with guests like All-Spice Cafe, Torchbearer Sauces and Gemini Crow, and many more lined up as guests, so stay tuned.

For those that don’t know who I am, my name is John Dilley, Supreme Dark Overlord of Defcon Sauces, a rather well-known purveyor of Wing Sauces, Habanero Horseradishes and Dry Rubs. Being around for over a decade, we’ve taken a ton of awards, and our product reach is global. If you haven’t tried our products, treat yourself. We’ve pretty much become the team to beat in the larger competitions, for a reason.

Speaking of industry competitions, that will be the topic this time around. As a team, Defcon Sauces has throttled back a lot on entering into large-scale competitions, and don’t really enter them much anymore. Why? Well, for one, they are expensive. It’s very easy to drop $1000 or more on entry fees, when there are 100 different categories to enter in. Secondly, Defcon Sauces has proven themselves time and time and time again over these many years that we are just that good at what we do, and have the products to back it up. Is that pompous? Nope, just stating fact, a fact that took over a decade to prove. Perhaps sweeping the Golden Chile Awards in 2013 and sweeping the Screaming Mimi Awards THIS year at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo are testaments to this statement.

Now, a little critique about the large-scale competitions. I feel there is an inherent problem with them. With over a hundred categories and sub categories in each of them, I feel most of the larger competitions end up diluting the overall competitiveness. On many occasions, I’ve seen awards and trophies handed out just because a said company was the only one to enter into that category. Kind of like getting a trophy for participation as opposed to earning it for exemplary product quality.

That being said, I think that is one big reason the NYC Hot Sauce Expo’s Screaming Mimi Awards have risen in popularity so quickly. There are only about a dozen or so categories, and NO sub categories. ALL of the categories have a large number of entries, and the winner actually has to beat all the other entries for exemplary product quality, not for just showing up. To win a Screaming Mimi is much more difficult than other awards, just because there are only a handful of them given out. That being said, I honestly don’t see the other large-scale events ever thinning the number of categories, as it is a BIG money generator for them, but hey, that’s my 2 cents.

Now, do awards help to drive sales? Yes and no. Just because you take a 1st Place trophy, don’t expect to be able to fill your driveway with Maybachs and sides of Wagyu Beef. I’ve met a TON of people over these many years that are stunned when they don’t get a huge influx of orders after a win. Yeah, of course you should get a few orders from it, perhaps get into a few new stores, but don’t think that because you got a Scovie or a Golden Chile that you are now a direct threat to Kraft. Now, should getting a massive influx of orders because you got a trophy happen? It would be nice, however, it takes two to tango.

The onus lies upon both parties, the company that won the trophy, AND the show itself. I know that the hot sauce company that won the award will do their best to promote the fact they won in competition, it’s inherently what they do. However, I have yet to see a show REALLY go out of their way to promote the winners with the same passion they had for getting the companies to sign up for the competition in the first place. Over the years, I have talked to a number of veterans of this industry, and many of them feel the same way, so I don’t think I’m too far off the mark with this idea, and I am certainly not the only one with this mindset.

Most will email you the standard, “fill in the blank with your company name”, cookie-cutter press release, and leave it up to you to get the word out. I think this is kinda sad. It would be nice to see the winners get radio/TV time or maybe a mention in large-scale magazine/newspapers. Will this ever happen? Who knows? Maybe someone will read this op-ed piece and take it to heart. Only time will tell.

We use the trophies and banners at our various booth setups for a number of events. I think it does bring a few extra people to the booth that would have otherwise walked by if they hadn’t seen them. One of my favorite lines to people when they see all the awards is, “I personally think all of our products suck, I just can’t convince the Judges”. There is also the pride factor, and the awards do instill a feeling of accomplishment as well, as they should. Other than these two uses, well, they look nice on a shelf or mantle, just don’t expect them to purchase your next 40-room mansion.

Well, I think that’s a good opener for this issue of the Defcon Creator’s op-ed piece. I just call ‘em like I see ‘em.



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