The History of Chuck Evans' MONTEZUMA Brand & the Legend of Smokey Chipotle®
The legendary Chuck Evans' MONTEZUMA Brand Sauces & Salsas began in 1986.
Founder Chuck Evans entered the fiery foods marketplace crafting a new wave of specialty pepper sauces & salsas made in small-batch quantities in his State of Ohio Department of Agriculture-licensed Columbus, Ohio cannery.
Chuck's chile-specific pepper sauces, including North America's very first Smokey Chipotle® Pepper Sauce, could be found in high foot-traffic tourist shops across the United States, as well as, in mail-order specialty food catalogs.
In those days few spicy food condiments were available in grocery and specialty stores...so Chuck decided that he needed a recognizable name brand to immediately identify his sauces & salsas.
(Very) Short History:
The namesake MONTEZUMA...an easily recognized name that shouted "MEXICAN" was chosen (consciously allowing for recurring comments about Montezuma's Revenge, a.k.a. the Aztec 2-step/ Toltec 2-step).
Thus the legend of Montezuma (English spelling) continues into the 21st century...long after Cortez and the Spanish conquistadors ransacked and wrestled control of Mexico City, i.e., Tenochtitlan, in 1521 A.D. from Aztec Emperor Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin (this is the proper Nahuatl translation-the language of the various indigenous peoples of Central Mexico, i.e., the Aztecs). In Mexico, the Aztec Emperor was also known as Moctezuma II.
The revenge/curse part comes into play when mixtos . . . persons of Spanish lineage mixed with other races including native Indian, mulatto, and others of European descent (all of whom presently populate most of Mexico)...drink the water.
Legend has it that Montezuma's "curse" afflicts all non-indigenous persons who trespass on the lands formerly controlled by the Mexicas . . . the Aztec Emperor's "revenge" for the destruction of the Aztec empire by outsiders.
In 1987-88, Chuck pioneered and created a unique assortment of Chile-specific pepper sauces, utilizing chile varieties including chipotle, chile morita, chile pequin, chile guerro, chile pasilla, chile de arbol, jalapeno peppers, chile serrano, chile cayenne, chile habanero, Thai chiles, New Mexico red and fire-roasted green chile, and the chile cascabel.
In the late 1980's and all throughout the 1990's, when all the rage was the flavorful Chile Habanero, Chuck pioneered the increasingly popular Chile Chipotle as an important natural flavor enhancer combination of smoke and spice. Outside of the Mexican populations in East Los Angeles and Chicago, the Chile Chipotle was dismissed because no one promoted, and very few chefs utilized, the distinct flavor profile of the smoked red-ripe Jalapeo pepper in their recipe repertoire.
Note the description of Chuck's MONTEZUMA Brand SALSA CHIPOTLE in Jeff Gerlach's Old Southwest Trading Company catalog from 1992, emphasizing (at that time) the unfamiliar flavor of Chipotle in a salsa. The internet eliminated most, if not all, of the many fiery foods mail-order catalog companies, and the Old Southwest Trading Company ceased operations about a decade ago. However, in his day, Jeff's catalog was the premiere mail-order catalog, providing mail-order access to consumers all over the country for difficult-to-find dried and fresh chiles, as well as, unique manufactured sauces, salsas, and hot sauces.
Chuck changed all of that with the creation of his legendary SMOKEY CHIPOTLE® Pepper Sauce and his SMOKEY CHIPOTLE® Salsa, the very first pepper sauce and the very first salsa, respectively, manufactured in the United States utilizing the Chile Chipotle.
Subsequently, Chuck created his SMOKEY CHIPOTLE® Salsa Verde, the original and very first tomatillo (green) salsa made in the world with the Chile Chipotle.
Additionally, Chuck created the very first pepper sauce made with a combination of Chile Chipotle and Habanero, which he named MONTEZUMA Brand SMOKEY CHIPOTLE® Habanero Pepper Sauce and the very first barbecue sauce made with Chile Chipotle, MONTEZUMA Brand SMOKEY CHIPOTLE® Barbecue Sauce (formerly known as MONTEZUMA Brand Western Grill Smokey & Spicy Barbecue Sauce).
The bold flavors of Chucks SMOKEY CHIPOTLE® sauces and his other Chile-specific pepper sauces captured the attention of fiery food aficionados.
More interesting facts:
Chuck Evans' MONTEZUMA Brand Sauces & Salsas, formerly known as Sauces & Salsas, Ltd., is the only remaining, i.e., original exhibitor, at the current fiery food industry trade shows and festivals who participated in the very 1st National Fiery Foods Show ever held. The location was El Paso, Texas where the birth of the fiery foods movement, shows and festivals, began on the weekend of September 9-11, 1988. The ongoing granddaddy spicy foods show; the National Fiery Foods & BBQ Show is produced by Dave DeWitt and his company, Sunbelt Shows, Inc. The original annual mecca for fiery food lovers is held the first weekend in March in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Excerpted from The 21st Annual Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show 2009 Official Program and the article BLAST from the PAST.
At the 1991 National Association for the Specialty Food Trade in New York (NASFT), an international gala convention of specialty foods produced around the world, Chuck's Jamaican Jerk BBQ Marinade was the 1st Jerk Sauce condiment to receive a FINALIST award in the Outstanding Savory Condiment, Dressing, or Cooking Enhancer category.
MONTEZUMA Brand was selected, among a dozen U.S. manufacturers, to ship Mexican-style and Tex-Mex packaged products for sale in Paris at the flagship FAUCHON luxury food emporium, founded in 1886. Imaginative window displays were created and the bold flavors of southwestern-style fiery foods were introduced to Europeans between 1991-1993. Fiery foods began to infiltrate European countries that knew little about Chile peppers and flavor with fire. Many individuals commented to Chuck about seeing his MONTEZUMA Brand sauces & salsas in the streets of France.
In 1993, Chuck registered, and received a U.S. trademark (1995) for the specific phrase "Smokey Chipotle®". Other than the McIlhenny Companys grandfathered-in exclusive use of Tabasco; Chuck was the only individual/company to receive a registered trademark incorporating a specific Chile name in the sauces, hot pepper sauces, and salsas (Class 30) category. However, the word Chipotle is not an exclusive use in the registration.
Beginning in 1986, and continuing for nearly ten (10) years, the "Original Hot Sauce Collector" enthusiastically collected available varieties of manufactured sauces made with chiles. By 1995, he amassed a collection of nearly 2,000 sauces gathered throughout the world, fiery condiments found primarily in Mexico, Central & South America, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean. At that time collecting such a large variety of sauces and salsas was no easy feat, for Chuck estimated that no more than 3,000-4,000 varieties existed prior to 1995. The specialty sauce market onslaught had not yet fully begun in earnest, however, as early as 1991 there were indications that burgeoning varieties of pepper-infused sauces had begun to populate American grocery shelves.
Chuck estimates 65,000 bottled and canned varieties, i.e., also known in retail industry parlance as SKUs (or Single Keeping Units) are available today. Collecting such an enormous number of fiery condiments is a much simpler task as grocery and specialty food stores carry large varieties of chile pepper products, however, without specialization, the downside to collecting could result in a storage and display nightmare. Originally, Chuck's collection began as a method of comparison marketing, to actually see what was sold from the shelves of the shops, bodegas, and marketplaces throughout the world.
In 1994, Chuck teamed up with the anointed "Pope of Peppers", Dave DeWitt, show pioneer and producer of The National Fiery Foods Show, held annually in Albuquerque every March, and publisher of The Fiery Foods Magazine (and former editor of The Chile Pepper Magazine), to write The HOT SAUCE BIBLE . Published in 1996 by the Crossing Press, and affectionately known as "The Bible", this reference was THE historical encyclopedia of pepper sauce facts...including numerous pepper sauce recipes from around the world. The HOT SAUCE BIBLE went to a Second Printing. Eventually, "The Bible" went out of print in 2001 after selling nearly 12,000 copies. Used copies are available from time-to-time on Amazon.com and ABEBooks.com.
The premise of The HOT SAUCE BIBLE centered on Chuck's cataloged and authenticated collection of Chile pepper-infused sauces listed in "The Bible", the original, largest and only documented collection in the world through June 1995. Upon completion of the manuscript, Chuck donated his entire collection to the Food Pantry in Columbus, Ohio.
In 1996, co-authors Chuck Evans and Dave DeWitt wrote PEPPER PANTRY: CHIPOTLE published in 1997 by Celestial Arts. Selling over 14,000 copies, this unique gem is still in publication.
PEPPER PANTRY: CHIPOTLE is the definitive book on the increasingly popular Chile Chipotle and contains dozens of recipes utilizing this smoky pepper in sauces, entrees, and appetizers.
You can purchase your copy of THE PEPPER PANTRY: CHIPOTLE , signed by Chuck Evans, by clicking our Product Order List button.
In 2001, Chuck Evans name was added to the MONTEZUMA labels, a suggestion from fellow fiery foods marketer, John "CaJohn" Hard, to personalize and distinguish the MONTEZUMA Brand. During this time Chuck sold his namesake operation to a trust, thereby protecting the legacy of the MONTEZUMA specialty sauce & salsa manufacture. Chuck maintains his presence as the company namesake and spokesperson.
Throughout the years, MONTEZUMA Brand sauces, including Karen's Spicy Red Hot Wings Sauce, have been awarded People's Choice awards at the "Always in September" Houston Hot Sauce Festival.
In September 2004, Chuck Evans' MONTEZUMA Smokey Chipotle® Salsa Verde was awarded the 2005 National Golden Chile 1st Place winning entry in the SALSA VERDE category, at the ZestFest in Fort Worth, Texas, a blind-taste test conducted by Chile Pepper Magazine. This was the first professional blind-tasting "contest" entered by Chuck Evans' MONTEZUMA Brand in 15 years.
Also at ZestFest in 2006, Chuck Evans' MONTEZUMA Smokey Chipotle® Garlic Pepper Sauce was awarded a Golden Chile Finalist in the CHIPOTLE HOT SAUCE category