Local Hot Sauce Brand Packs a Punch—And Gives Back

Arlingtonian bottles Helpful Hot Sauce from peppers in his home garden, donating profits to charity.
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Helpful Hot Sauce comes in a variety of flavors, from smoked pepper to the especially fiery El Diablo. (Photo courtesy of Helpful Hot Sauce)

Jamey Bowers isn’t the only Arlingtonian to throw himself into a pandemic-era hobby. But not everyone’s passion projects are altruistic—and spicy, to boot.

Enter Helpful Hot Sauce, a brand of fiery condiments Bowers launched in 2020 that has benevolence built into the business model. With the profits from each $7 bottle, the public relations professional gives back to a cause he cares about. When Covid shut down the country, Bowers found himself working from home and investing more time in his home garden. Soon, the self-identified “foodie” had his hands on a bumper crop of hot peppers and began experimenting with hot-sauce recipes.

“I’m totally self-taught, other than YouTube and several different websites,” he says with a laugh.

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Jamey Bowers grows some 20 varieties of hot peppers in his home garden. (Photo courtesy of Helpful Hot Sauce)

Early on, Bowers whipped up a few versions of hot sauces that he gave to neighbors. After receiving rave reviews, he started selling the bottles in a Facebook group and donating profits to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). Soon, he was dedicating his weeknights to the kitchen, churning out bottle after bottle: A smoked pepper version that he crafts with habaneros and ghost peppers. Cranberry habanero to add to a Thanksgiving spread. And a product called El Diablo.

“It’s so hot, I won’t even eat it,” Bowers says.

In the past two years, Bowers has sold more than 400 bottles and donated $1,250 to AFAC and another $1,500 to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, a couple hours away from where he grew up.

This fall, he’s got big plans for the roughly 60 hot-pepper plants taking up space in his yard. He’s looking at ways to get his products on farmers market tables and, eventually, on shelves at local shops. But if Helpful Hot Sauce does go commercial, Bowers won’t be veering from his original idea.

“It would kind of be like Newman’s Own … it would always have a charitable component,” he says.

Categories: Community, Food & Drink