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Grange Fair Brings Hot Sauce Vendor a Dedicated Following

by on August 23, 2014 7:00 AM

Tiffany Hill has been “dancing around the house for the past few weeks” in excitement for this week’s annual Grange Fair – but she wasn’t thinking about the food, live entertainment or any of the other events.

The Snowshoe, Pa. resident was dancing for hot sauce.

Hill is one of what Dan Lowenstein, owner of Red Hawk Premium Peppers, calls one of his most loyal groups of customers. He started his specialty hot sauce business three years ago, and says the Grange Fair in Centre Hall has been instrumental to its success.

“I look forward to coming here each year,” Lowenstein says. “Now we have regular, repeat customers that wait for the fair each year to buy our hot sauce, even though they can order it online year-round. It’s like an annual tradition.”

Hill says Lowenstein rewards the loyalty of these customers with a dedicated loyalty of his own.

“Once, he even met us at our house to deliver sauce to us,” Hill says.

Lowenstein says he’s “always been a chili-head” and has been growing peppers for years. Having been born into a family with “an Irish grandmother who loved hot stuff,” he says making his sauces and spicy condiments is in his blood.

“I just had so many people asking me, ‘Dan, why aren’t you selling this stuff?’ that I finally said, ‘okay,’ and here we are,” Lowenstein says of Reedsville-based business.

Joshua Snyder – who’s been coming to the fair “every year since [he] was a month old” –  stopped by the Red Hawk Peppers tent for the first time on Friday afternoon, where he tried the “Tame the Reaper” sauce (which is made with what the Guinness Book of World Records lists as the hottest pepper on the planet).

“It’s really good, and hot, and it still has a lot of flavor,” Snyder says. “I’m thinking that could go on chicken, or even steak.”

Lowenstein says he never sacrifices flavor for heat, even in his hottest sauces. He says sauces without flavor are “gimmicky” and aren’t worth putting on food.

The vendors around the Red Hawk Premium Peppers also benefited from Lowenstein’s combination of sweet and heat. After having customers try free samples of his spicy sauces, he would send them to the ice cream stand across the street to cool their mouths. For customers who bought a bottle of sauce, he would recommend a nearby food vendor to try it out on. 

“He has such a wide variety,” Hill says. “Plus it’s a local business, and I love supporting local people.”

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Michael Martin Garrett is StateCollege.com's general assignment reporter, an alumni of Penn State and the bassist for local indie rock band Sun Whales. Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelMGarrett.
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