Palette to Palate
A Designer's Dive into the NYC Hot Sauce Expo
TLDR: I went to the NYC Hot Sauce Expo and now I want to design a hot sauce bottle. Breaking a 4-month YouTube break and a new product.
That’s when I stepped out of the Uber. I didn’t have a clue what was about to happen. But here I was in Industry City jumping into the New York City Hot Sauce Expo on its final day.
I was stoked as I approached with my ticket. Swiftly, I was handed a new bottle of craft habanero sauce with an insane label and a few tokens for drinks and food. The tokens were guitar picks. I climbed the stairs and there it was.
The expo was buzzing around full to the brim with masochists. Look, I enjoy a good kick with my food, but after what I saw that day I feel like an amateur. A guy wearing a shirt that said “Heat Addict” approached me to ask if I’d like to try his assortment of sauces.
Sure (i said)
Not knowing if my face was about to melt.
Bravely, I took the little white spoon and put it in my mouth.
Oh, that’s nice. (i said)
I tasted notes of maple syrup before getting slapped on the tongue with the habanero. Oh sheet of paper that is hot. But I recovered quickly and promptly tried more.
Want to try some more? (he said)
It is amazing how dedicated these hot sauce makers are to their craft. But let’s backtrack. How did I even get here? Have you heard of the show “Hot Ones?” I absolutely love the concept of it and I bought a kit to try at home with Sandy and then some friends. Well, that’s how I got on the Heatonist (what a great name) text message list. And when I woke up on Sunday morning and saw that the hot sauce expo was in town I didn’t think twice.
I sipped on a little bev and had BBQ to resuscitate my taste buds. I took a break and hung out at an empty table observing a new community I had never seen before. People who are passionate about heat and flavor and the makers. And what amazed me even more was how fantastic the bottle labels were. They were perfect. Truly.
The outrageous names and typography. The illustrations of fire and peppers. The wordmarks of these hot sauce brands. The labels reflected the content and broke all of the graphic design rules because they could. These people are having fun and the labels show it.
I then tried a mole-inspired sauce. It was OK. But that’s because I know what mole tastes like. I even tried something with a ghost reaper. It wasn’t too bad but I had to wipe my face after.
Overall, I was thankful to be there. It felt good being surrounded by people who love hot sauce. It reminded me that anywhere there is a high degree of love for a craft I need to be there to listen and learn.
When I hopped back into the Uber looking at my new sauces an old idea popped back into my head.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to design a hot sauce from flavor to label?⚜
Questions for you:
1. Do you like hot sauce?
2. What is your favorite product label?
3. What is an expo that you’d like to go to?
I’m back on YouTube. It’s not like I ever left, but I have been pretty quiet on there. Anyway, I’m back with a new “catching up” video.
Oh and if you’re interested in learning how to appreciate drawings check this one out.
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