Updated: Dec 19, 2022
Bring some flavor to your holiday festivities with some spicy and unique Vermont-made sauces from Benito’s Hot Sauce
STORY BY BENJAMIN LERNER
PHOTOGRAPHY JIMMY iENNER, JR.
Looking to add some spice to a festive meal and warm your holiday nights with a zesty kick of Vermont-made flavor? Benito’s Hot Sauce has got you covered. Their phenomenal, award-winning sauces are comprised of natural, wholesome ingredients. Many of the hot peppers and vegetables used in Benito’s Hot Sauce are sourced from organic farms in Vermont, such as UVM’s Catamount Farm in South Burlington, Honeyfield Farm in Norwich, and Deep Meadow Farm in Ascutney, among others. Benito’s delicious sauces are made using a technique that creates a fresh vegetable purée. As a result, the sauces possess a unique and well-balanced taste that gracefully blends elements of fire and flavor—and is firmly rooted in the time-honored Vermont tradition of independent agriculture.
The owner and founder of Benito’s Hot Sauce, Ben Maniscalco, is a proud and vocal proponent of Vermont’s burgeoning food industry. When Maniscalco moved to Vermont from his hometown of Montclair, New Jersey in 2007, he had already spent several years perfecting his homemade hot sauce recipes. Although he found success selling his hot sauce in New Jersey, he was not able to fully realize his entrepreneurial ambitions until he relocated to the Green Mountain State.
A year after his arrival in Vermont, Maniscalco officially founded and incorporated Benito’s Hot Sauce. He then began cooking his hot sauces at the Vermont Food Venture Center in Fairfax. “I moved to Vermont, because I thought that it would be a better arena to grow my business,” says Maniscalco. His instincts turned out to be correct. Several months after Benito’s Hot Sauce was founded, the company’s products were already lining the shelves of over 20 stores throughout Vermont. In the years that followed, Maniscalco and his team of hot sauce experts progressively expanded the product range from their bold and satisfying “Original Naranja” sauce. Current highlights include a wide swath of additional hot sauce options, such as the potent and fiery “Poto Rojo” sauce and the smooth and citrusy “Joe’s #1 Jalatillo” sauce. Additional products of note include their chili pepper-infused maple syrup and their Mango Habanero hot sauce.
Maniscalco made a concerted effort to build a fiercely loyal customer base through a combination of hard work and grassroots marketing at well-attended community events, such as the Burlington Farmer’s Market. He also forged effective partnerships with small businesses, co-op markets, and distribution hubs across the state, which enabled the business to organically grow. As a result of the
growth, Maniscalco moved the operation to a larger facility in Morrisville in 2015. Today, Benito’s Hot Sauce is available in 600 stores in 41 states. Maniscalco remains unwavering in his commitment to provide high-quality food products to his customers. He still plays a direct role in the cooking, bottling, labeling, and sealing process for nearly all of Benito’s Hot Sauce products, and he feels a deep, personal sense of pride in every bottle of hot sauce that bears the Benito’s name.
As Maniscalco looks toward the future, he is incredibly excited about the recent debut of Benito’s new Maple Bourbon hot sauce. The sauce is made with Vermont maple syrup, and it serves as a fitting tribute to the positive connections that Maniscalco has made in Vermont’s vibrant food scene. “We make our sauces with the best ingredients sourced from local farms, because we value Vermont’s food producers, and we value transparency, as well,” says Maniscalco. He adds that he is also incredibly grateful to the larger Vermont community, which he considers to be the true “backbone” of the business. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of our loyal customers here in Vermont.”
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