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Woodstock Magazine

Vermont Maple Sriracha Brings One Magical Hot Sauce to The Green Mountain State

Sep 23, 2015 02:37PM ● Published by Victoria Pipas

Snow, cows, forests, and farms—these all come to mind when people think about Vermont. Spicy and exotic? Not so much. Yet Vermont Maple Sriracha is defying all stereotypes to bring the Green Mountain State a taste of peppery fire, even up in the Great North Woods. With just five simple ingredients, its founders crafted a Thai hot sauce that has the sweetness of Vermont maple syrup to balance the kick of Fresno peppers. With saucy sweetness like this, who needs ketchup? Read on to learn more about the birth of this culinary gem.

A collaboration of two founders, Big Lenny and Jackson, the Vermont Maple Sriracha Company also has simple origins. Jackson, a true Vermonter, was disappointed to discover the adverse health effects of the sulfite preservatives in the hot sauces he loved. Instead of resigning himself to bland food, he teamed up with his friend and sauce master Big Lenny of Big Lenny’s Hot Dogs, who operates a stand along Route 7 in Rutland, Vermont. Together they formulated a recipe for a unique sriracha with a Vermont twist—maple syrup and maple sugar.

After eight batches of mixing, tasting, and remixing, the two believe they have perfected their recipe. The ingredients are simple and recognizable—Fresno peppers, apple cider vinegar, Vermont pure maple syrup and sugar, garlic, and Kosher salt. The health benefits and sources of each ingredient are detailed on the website; click on each one to learn more about what you’re eating. The peppers are all US grown, and the founders are working to contract with local producers so that in the future the produce will be Vermont grown too.

The success and business aspects of the company come together as purely and locally as the ingredients do. After running through a few small batches of the sauce, Big Lenny added sriracha to the list of handmade condiments available for topping his hot dogs. Soon customers realized the power of this little bottle of sauce and were eager to add the same kick to other foods. Big Lenny started bottling and labeling the sauce and selling bottles alongside the hot dogs at his stand. He describes how people would come up to the window and request three or four bottles all while as he was trying to serve hot dogs topped with the sauce. He chuckles, “They’re going, ‘What the hell kind of an operation is this?’ And I’m going, ‘You’re in on the ground floor, that’s the kind of operation it is!’”

Products as tasty and popular as this one don’t remain undiscovered for long. Within a year, Martha Stewart had endorsed Vermont Maple Sriracha as a finalist for the 2014 Martha Stewart “American Made” awards. Now, bottles of both the Original Red Sriracha and the citrusy Verde Sriracha are sold online and at retail stores mainly in the Green Mountain State but also in New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, and the Carolinas. You can even order your supply from Amazon! But no matter how popular the sauce becomes, it’s still all natural and made in small batches right here in Vermont. There’s no tastier way to eat right and support local businesses.

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