Growing up in Rochester, NY, spicy foods were a family tradition in Tom Falbo’s house. In college, people would stop by his room regularly to borrow from his hot sauce collection. So, it’s no surprise to know that today Falbo is the owner of the locally made “ROC City” line of hot sauces by PepperNutz, located in Spencerport, NY.
After graduating from college, Falbo got into the .com rush and purchased a number of URLs, one of which was PepperNutz.com. When the craft hot sauce industry started to get a lot of extra publicity in the East Coast back in 2008, he decided to merge his passion and PepperNutz.com. “It’s like the explosion in the craft beer industry, crafting small-batch hot sauces has taken a similar turn – but might not be as popular beer is,” Falbo laughs.
What started as a website to distribute other manufacturers hot sauces eventually came to include his two other lines of business – his very own signature recipe line and his Private Label Hot Sauce and Spices Program. With the help of friends in the industry, Falbo perfected some of his favorite recipes he had been making at home for years and in 2014 his ROC City signature sauces were officially born. With his Private Label Program he makes branded sauces for restaurants, wineries, breweries and retailers. He notes he even uses the program for fundraisers, corporate events, and weddings.
What makes his PepperNutz ROC City sauces different from the rest is not only the labels mirrored after Rochester, NY’s skyline, but what they’re made of. Falbo wanted to go for something different than vinegar-based sauces. We’re talking about all-natural hot sauces that are health conscious containing unique combinations of peppers, fruits, veggies, and spices that have a thicker consistency. The line currently consists of 6 hot sauces, 2 that are tomato and pepper based and 4 that are fruit and pepper based.
“Our tomato-based sauces are our super-hots featuring Bhut Jolokia ghost peppers, and the other with Carolina Reaper peppers. The Reaper peppers are the current world record record holder for the hottest pepper in the world. We don’t use any extracts,” Falbo says.
The sauces are small-batch brewed in 100 gallon kettles to keep them constantly fresh. The cooking process itself is about 2 day process, where the sauces are cooked at 185 degrees to clean out any impurities in the fruits and veggies. Because of the way they’re cooked, each sauce will last up to 2 years.
“Developing the sauces the way we did opens our sauce up to different groups of health conscious people. It also creates collaborative opportunities to work with culinary chefs and feature them in restaurant dishes and prepared retail treats,” Falbo notes. “We’ve done some really fun things with the hot sauces: the bakeshop Sweet Sammy Jane’s on Park Ave. made a specialty macaron that featured our Pineapple Persuasion hot sauce in the filling; we have paired up with food trucks like Whole-E-Roasters who feature our sauces; and we’ve had the New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua featured the hot sauces in their pizza and wing culinary classes.”
– Make a garbage plate or burger topper meat hot sauce with Ghost Fusion Sauce
– Try a Buffalo cheese dip with ROC’n Reaper Sauce
– Make PepperNutz Ghost Poppers: fried dough donut balls with our Ghost Pepper Sauce custard
– Marinade your favorite meat with P-apple Persuasion
Today, Falbo is working on transitioning the focus of his website to feature more of the small batch, custom crafted sauces from across the U.S. to create an outlet for smaller and regional producers. Currently his website www.PepperNutz.com features his online fiery foods emporium hosting over 1,100 different spicy food products (including over 900 hot sauces) and his Private Label Program.
Want to try PepperNutz sauces for yourself? Stop into the store, where PepperNutz sauces are always available for you to add to your sandwich in our cafe!
Or, head over to our Instagram for the chance to win a PepperNutz gift basket and a $25 Hart’s Local Grocers gift card between 1/22/18 and 11:59pm on 1/25/18. (Winner will be announced on 1/26/18 through Instagram. Must be 18+ to enter and available to pick up prize from Hart’s Local Grocers).