Everyone needs a hobby. It allows folks to express themselves in ways that combine work and play. Some play sports or work out, others write or draw, and so on, doing anything and everything under the stars.
Craig DeDecker has a hobby that many others share — he’s a collector. However, he doesn’t collect antiques or stamps or even comic books. No, DeDecker’s passion lies in hot sauce, and with a collection that spans in the thousands, it’s clear he’s somewhat a specialist on the subject.
DeDecker started collecting hot sauces back in 2003 after attending the Fiery Foods Show in Albuquerque, N.M. Originally down there to pick up a smoker for his restaurant, DeDecker was sucked into the Chilihead culture almost immediately.
“I loved the people, I loved the atmosphere, I loved the hot sauce,” says DeDecker. “After that, I was hooked and started to go to as many of the other festivals as I could. Fortunately, I started rubbing elbows with some of the big boys of the hot sauce game.”
Like any hobbyist, DeDecker doesn’t just collect any old hot sauce from the local grocer. He has his favorite sauces and his favorite manufacturers. The two brands that dominate his personal collection are Blair’s and CaJohns.
Encased in glass or arranged on a bookshelf, DeDecker’s favorite collectable are far more than simply bottles of hot sauce. Some bottles look like guitars, snowmen or skulls; others like vials from a science lab. Some are hand-painted labels. All are sealed with wax. These were never meant to be tasted; they were meant to show off.
“Like any collection, you need to have them all for the collection to be worth the work,” DeDecker says. “I can’t always make it out to these (hot sauce) festivals, so I’ve got to buy them online. When only five bottles get made, it’s not easy getting a hold of one. Yes, it can get expensive but don’t they look cool?”
Yes, they most certainly do.
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