Local recipe sparks specialty franchise
By Jane Myhra
A hot sauce from Scandinavia recently won the Golden Pepper Award at the Fiery Food Fest in Houston, Texas.
The “Uff Da Scandinavian Gold Hot Sauce” recipe was created by Melissa and Bob Stabb, of Scandinavia.
Uff Da was named the best Louisiana-style hot sauce, which is a competitive category to enter, according to Melissa Stabb.
The Stabbs manufactured the hot sauce in a commercial kitchen in 1989 and sold the product at the former Old Mill Discount Store, in Iola.
After closing the store, they offered the hot sauce and other pepper-related products at Appleton’s Fox River Mall and Green Bay’s Bay Park Square under the name “Hots.” For several years, the Stabbs and their son, Craig Migawa, also operated stores in Oshkosh, “Hots Pepper Pod,” and on Wisconsin Avenue in Appleton.
Craig said they got the idea to sell pepper products while on a visit to California.
“We saw a cart selling hot sauce and different pepper products and thought ‘We can do this,’” he said.
In the mid-1990s, Craig and his wife, Tanya, moved the business to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and changed the company name to “Pepper Palace.” They currently operate more than 39 stores, with the Gatlinburg location known as the largest spice-themed specialty retail store in the world.
“People who have never seen the store are amazed at the variety of products and labeling,” Melissa said. “It is amazing how one small idea grew to be such a successful business.”
A unique feature of the Pepper Palace stores is a tasting bar that looks like a fire engine. They also sell salsa, seasoning, rub, mustard, ketchup, fruit butter, snack dips and other gift items.
Over 50 workers are involved in the manufacturing and distribution of products for Pepper Palace at the corporate headquarters in Sevierville, Tennessee.
“They do hand bottling and hand dip the waxes to seal the top,” Melissa said.
The multi-million dollar business has plans to expand to Canada, and other international locations.
“We kept the Uff Da recipe because it is so excellent,” Craig said. “We kept the name as a tribute to my parents and my hometown.”
He described the name as “fun, cool and different.”
After Pepper Palace won several of the categories in the 2016 Fiery Food Challenge, Craig and Tonya presented the Uff Da trophy to his parents, in tribute to their contribution.
Craig, an Iola-Scandinavia graduate, and Tanya (Vaughan), a native of Waupaca, have three daughters. Two of the daughters work for the family corporation; the youngest is in high school.
Gourmet hot sauce
Uff Da Scandinavian Gold Hot Sauce is considered a medium gourmet hot sauce. It contains a blend of cayenne, habanero and black pepper in a vinegar base.
The website describes it as having “a good heat with a peppery flavor this is good on anything; perfect for those who like the heat and pepper taste.”
Uff Da Scandinavian Gold Hot Sauce may be ordered at www.pepperpalace.com or by calling 800-684-3358. Those who mention this article and code GOLDENPEPPER10 will receive a 10 percent discount on the order.
The Uff Da hot sauce is also available at the Scandy C-Store, in Scandinavia.
The closest Pepper Palace locations are in the Mall of America, in Minnesota, and in three Chicago stores.
“This stuff is hot,” Craig warned.
He offered a few tips to help cool ones mouth after eating hot sauce: Eat ice cream or white bread, or drink milk or any dairy based product.
To his mother, Uff Da is just a normal eating sauce.
“It makes a great Blood Mary,” Melissa said.