Made In Chicago: Co-Op Sauce

CHICAGO (CBS) — The home of Co-Op Sauce is a storefront in the 6300 block of North Clark. Not quite Rogers Park. Not really Edgewater.

“We call it Rogers Water.”

Mike Bancroft is the founder and owner of Co-Op Sauce.

Hot sauce.

coop sauce Made In Chicago: Co Op Sauce

Mike Bancroft is the founder and owner of Co-Op Sauce. (WBBM/Steve Miller)

They buy peppers from family growers. Last year, they went through 40,000 pounds of peppers.

“This is where, once peppers are processed, which just means that we’re pureeing them. We salt them and we put them up in barrels. And then we basically let nature take its course,” he said.

Bancroft opens the top of a barrel where green peppers have been fermenting.

“See the bubbles going there? That’s actually the gas that’s being – the exhaust of the ferment.”

Bancroft got into the hot sauce business about 15 years ago to raise money for a young people’s arts and entrepreneur program he was involved with. And he still helps not-for-profits with proceeds from the hot sauce.

“You could use this now. But as it ferments, the heat dies down a little bit.

“We like to say that we build them for flavor and not for pain. And I believe there’s a whole genre of sauces that are built for that sort of pain threshold, which I appreciate the chili-head side of things,” Bancroft said. “But what I think is cool about our product is, we have a far wider audience that appreciate the product because of that balance, versus the testosterone-driven market of the hotter-the-better theory.

“I generally don’t want something that’s going to melt my face off.”

Watch & Listen LIVE