MONROE, Conn. -- When Diane Slosser gave her husband, Tom, a make-your-own hot sauce kit for Christmas a few years ago, she had no idea it would lead to a family business.
But Tom Slosser developed a love for creating smokin’ sauces and — just shy of a year ago — the couple jumped at the chance to take over The Angry Pepper, an eight-year-old mecca for all things super spicy on Monroe’s busy Main Street.
“I always wanted a laundromat or a hot dog truck,” said Diane, the full-time residency program coordinator for radiology at Bridgeport Hospital. “My husband said, ‘this is as close as you’re getting to that laundromat.’”
It was Tom’s love of adding varieties to his Tom’s Roid-Rippin’ Hot Sauce that led the couple to take over the business. Formerly in advertising, he had some quality time to work on his sauce during the country’s economic downturn a few years back.
“It’s a creative outlet,” Diane said.
Having developed what he thought was a quality product, Tom stopped at The Angry Pepper to see if the previous owners, brothers Liam and Owen Callahan, would stock it. About a week before Christmas, the Callahans called to say the sauce was flying off the shelves and they needed more, Diane said.
When Liam Callahan passed away, his brother tried to keep up the shop with his mom’s help, but he decided to walk away about a year ago and the Slossers agreed to take over the lease and the merchandise.
The Angry Pepper stocks hundreds of hot sauce varieties from popular brands such as Dave’s, Mad Dog’s and Blair’s to locally made varieties. The line also includes hot sauce-themed foods and other specialty products for the asbestos-tongued.
Though they each have day jobs, the Stratford couple also attends hot sauce and food festivals, usually touting Tom’s sauces. In April, Tom won second place in the New York City Hot Sauce Expo.
The Slossers are usually back at the store during weekend hours, while their son Dan holds down the fort during the week. They’re extending their holiday hours and are hoping to see lots of familiar faces looking for unusual stocking stuffers in the coming weeks.
They even stock a holiday hot sauce — Hermey’s Revenge, a nod to the elf who wants to be a dentist in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It’s a blend of ghost peppers with a hint of cranberry, clove and other seasonal flavors.
“It’s not that hot,” said Diane. “It’s not just about the burn.”
To learn more about The Angry Pepper and to check out the product line, visit www.theangrypepper.net .