We’re continuing our series of Made In New Jersey hot sauce reviews with one of our neighbors, Highlands-based Born To Hula. This is a very small producer, trying to make its mark by providing both a high-quality product and customer satisfaction. Founder Ed Bucholtz picked this Hawaiian theme as an incentive to enjoy life, break down your boundaries and live it up. And their tag line says “It’s not just a Hot Sauce… It’s a way of life!”
Mr. Bucholtz further explains the origins of the sauces’ name: “Besides loving the beach and living at the Jersey Shore we also love music. Born to Hula is the name of a song from the band called Queens of the Stone Age. Originally we wanted to have a picture of a Hawaiian girl on the label but there was another hot sauce company already with a similar theme. When searching through some old photos I found a picture of my Father “who is no longer with us” doing the Hula Hoop. So we kept the name and dedicated the company to him. But also this is the Garden State which we proudly display on every bottle!”
But before going into more details about the company, let’s first get to the three Born to Hula sauces we’ve tested:
- Habanero Guajillo: A combination of the two peppers in its name, it has a pleasant medium heat, and it’s very flavored, I really loved this one! As BTH says, it gives you a “Taste of Mexico”, and we recommend it with any Mexican food.
- Cayenne: It’s very light sauce, easy to eat, barely spicy. Has a sweet Louisiana-style flavor, great for a BBQ. This was my wife’s favorite. The bottle says it was a 2013 Fiery Food Challenge Winner.
- Ghost of Ancho: Its main ingredient is the “ghost” pepper, or Bhut Jolokia, but also contains ancho (to sweeten it a bit) and habanero. It’s the hottest sauce from our Born to Hula batch. But while very spicy, it’s not an overwhelming heat, you can still feel the flavor both of the sauce, and of the food. It’s a very tasty smoky heat and this bottle was a 2014 Golden Chile Winner. Bhut Jolokia held the Guiness World Record from 2007 until 2012 when it was replaced by the Trinidad Scorpion. At just over 1,000,000 Scoville units, it’s 900 times hotter than Tabasco, and India law enforcement uses it as pepper gas or spray for crowd control.
Company founder Ed Bucholtz told us he runs small batches, all made with products from local Monmouth County farmers. We asked him where does he prefer to go and he told us: “We buy all our fresh peppers from Dearborn Market in Holmdel and the Rt. 9 Farmers Market in South Amboy. Our dried chilies we purchase from El Apache in Keyport.”
Next, we asked Ed how did BTH come to life.
“I was in manufacturing “plastic and rubber” for 22 years when the company started falling on hard times”, he started. “So I decided to follow a dream in the culinary industry. After graduating from the New York Restaurant School the company finally went under due to the failing economy. I always loved spicy food and found myself looking for more. When doing some traveling or dining out I would sometimes come across some hot sauce bottles that either looked cool or made me laugh but most stores and restaurants only carried the same generic brands. A lot of these sauces were way to hot or just didn’t have the flavor I was looking for. So with that in mind I bought a $20 hot sauce starter kit online and started making and bringing my own with me to restaurants. Every time I would pull a bottle out of my wife’s pocketbook and place it on the table peoples heads would turn and ask to try it. With a lot of good responses from strangers and being jobless I figured why not try to sell my spicy creations.”
Born To Hula is based on the Jersey Shore, in Highlands. Their sauces can be found in a variety of local stores and eateries, including Dearborn Market in Holmdel, Sickles Market in Little Silver, Dean’s Natural Food Market in Ocean, Bay Ave Bakery, Chubby Pickle and Lusty Lobster in Highlands, Spice It Up in Beach Haven, Wemrock Orchards in Freehold, several Whole Foods stores and much more!
If you’re looking to rent a house at the shore, check out ShoreVacations.com, Jersey Shore’s biggest vacation rentals resource. It lists hundreds of rental homes and condos from Sandy Hook all the way down to Cape May (including Belmar, Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights, Ocean City, Long Beach Island, Atlantic City or the Wildwoods). It’s a one-stop website for planning your Jersey Shore vacation, featuring beach information, weather updates and more! And of course, it has a full list of all the Jersey Shore events this year.