Monday, September 28, 2009
Florida Inmates Turn Up the Heat in the Big House
By JULIA ROGERS, AOL SMALL BUSINESS
Posted: 2009-09-17 19:04
A new group of small business entrepreneurs are taking the spotlight at Tampa, Florida's Hillsborough County Jail. Inmates at this minimum security facility are brewing and selling their own line of hot sauces. Even more unique than the sauce itself is the inmates' decision to embrace the unique product's roots by building the brand entirely around a prison theme, naming the condiment "Jail House Fire Hot Sauce" and using gripping slogans that include "So Lethal" and "Murder on the Taste Buds."The original mastermind behind Jail House Fire Hot Sauce was a Cuban inmate who complained of the tastelessness of prison food and wanted to make improvements. The former inmate turned to the jail's horticultural program, run by Allen Boatman. The voluntary program offered only to well-behaved, trustworthy convicts granted special privileges -- "trusties" -- involves educating prisoners about growing plants, trees, herbs and vegetables and getting them to help maintain a working garden. At Hillsborough Jail, this garden includes over 1,200 different pepper varieties.
Some intensive recipe research led to the development of three different hot sauce flavors, available for $3 per 1.5-ounce bottle and $7 per five-ounce bottle at the jail itself, or online at http://www.jailhousefire.org/. "No Escape" packs the most punch and issues a warning for the "faint of stomach." "Smoke" is less hot than it is flavorful, seasoning food with a smoky, almost barbecued/chipotle flavor. "Original" is a mild hot sauce with a fruity taste that has become a favorite among customers who like to have a trusty stand-by hot sauce on hand.