My name is Brian Caudle, my wife is Beth Caudle. We are the owners of Caudle’s Red Dirt Pepper Company in Landrum, South Carolina (aka, Dark Corner).
We started this company by accident in 2018. It was started with a cayenne pepper falling from its plant and I thought that our red dirt it landed in made this pepper hotter than a normal cayenne.
I started researching and looking up to see what the Cayenne pepper ranks on the Scoville scale, and found out it’s about 30,000 – 50,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). When I saw that the Carolina Reaper comes in at 2 million I laughed out loud!
Looking deeper into the Carolina Reaper I saw that it was grown in Fort Mill, South Carolina just 2 hours from Landrum. So I thought since South Carolina has the hottest Pepper in the world it had to be because of the red dirt!
Since then, I’ve learned it’s not the dirt, it’s the person who grows them, Smokin’ Ed Curry, the Michael Jordan of the pepper world. He has a Guinness World Record for hottest peppers created from his scientific method of growing super-hot peppers.
Landrum, South Carolina is the uppermost county in SC. Our history comes from what locals call dark corners. The isolated hills and hollows of Dark Corner were a haven for Confederate deserters during the war and in succeeding decades Dark Corners was known for countless whiskey distillers. Naturally, we are born into making craft whiskey and other homemade concoctions, which is the way of life here in Landrum. We have a farmer’s market on main street where you can buy all sorts of produce and crafts, and corn whiskey!
People love making craft hoods here, which is where my idea of making hot sauces and love of making hot sauces from scratch stems from. Like Hank Wlliams Jr said, “It’s a family tradition, it’s a way of lie in these here hills.”
I like my hot sauce hotter than the normal, and I don’t like a lot of vinegar or extracts in my sauce. I wanted to create a sauce that tasted like our local peppers. The 3 hot sauces I make don’t have any zing or zang, just simply hot sauce that tastes like the peppers I put in.
When prepping my first bottle and recipe I asked around, watched YouTube videos and tasted many sauces from different specialist and craft hot sauce makers. My first recipe had a lot of peppers in it, and all the ingredients were homegrown or bought locally from growers. I gave the sauces from my first batch to friends and family and it was a hit!
To give you some background, I am 47, have worked for GE Lighting since 1993, but don’t know anything about running a hot sauce business. I’m learning as I go from the Ed Curries of the world and reading lots of books. One thing I learned this year was that it’s hard to get peppers year-round because around these parts, peppers grow from May to October. I’d need peppers from November to May to move from a seasonal business to a full-time business.
As I grow more into a business, I’m learning more about food and government regulations such as cottage food laws, interstate commerce policy's and other regulations. 2019 will not be as profitable but in the end I am hoping to be legal and in local markets and stores.
I enjoy the whole community of pepper heads and the way we do things. I am a part of a lot of groups on Facebook, blogs like this site and find other ways to learn and encourage others in the pepper world.
This is my short story so far. Stay tuned, I will be in your house soon. Thanks for reading!
- Brian Caudle CEO of Red Dirt Pepper Company