By Steven Hicks
For years, Tom Beasley went to Jamaica on vacations and started bringing back jerk rub, little hot sauces he’d bought down there, and his friends who’d enjoyed it with him for years, decided they wanted to buy some. Beasley tells us, “this was just when the hot sauce was probably getting ready to take off about 25 years ago.” He connected with two or three manufacturers in Jamaica and started making it under his own label.
Just like that, Montego Bay Trading Company was born. What started out a hobby, became a passion…and a business. “In fact I have two pallets at the Orlando airport as we speak, waiting for me. I do a lot of jerk. I sell a lot of nine pound pails to restaurants in Orlando. We do business with some of the better restaurants there.” Even Bob Marley’s restaurant. That’s quite the testimonial, selling hot sauces mostly made in Jamaica back to a Jamaican-themed restaurant with Marley’s name on it. “Yeah, they buy our jerk seasoning too, some scotch bonnets, and some red crushed peppers,” Beasley added.
Beasley first went down to Jamaica in 1962, when they gained their independence, but he was 72 before he’d visit again. At 72, he started just going frequently to arrange for the production of his hot sauces. “I use one manufacturer outside of Montego Bay. They make all my sauces,”
More Than Hot Sauces
“Probably 20 years ago, I ran across a sauce in Costa Rica called Lizano. Every table in Costa Rica has it on it. Every restaurant has it in it. They use it as a condiment and they use it as a marinade. So we got into that and now sell it around the country,” Beasley tells us.
Beasley loves most talking about his peppers. “And then there is the ghost pepper. It took me 11 months to bring that in from India. I was the first one to ever bring it in the States. I was bringing it in 100 pound bags, and was one of the first to make a hot sauce out of it. If you know anything about Scoville units, the ghost pepper is rated at about a million Scoville units. And now they’ve got one hotter, at a million four. It’s called a Trinidad Scorpion. I made a hot sauce out of that one, too. There’s another out of North Carolina called The Carolina Reaper, also 1.4 million
For someone reading about the Scoville Scale for the first time, at 1 million units for a ghost pepper, or 1.4 million for a Carolina reaper or a Trinidad Scorpion, a jalapeño in comparison comes in at around 15,000 units, a habanero tops out at about 250,000. If one pepper is 250,000 units, to be twice as hot, it needs to be at 500,000. The Scoville Scale is linear. Now consider that jalapeño you had last week to a Trinidad Scorpion. That’s a hot pepper.
So, does Beasley love hot sauces on his food? “No sir. I use a little hot sauce that’s probably, I don’t know, 150 Scoville units maybe. I want the flavor rather than heat. But I’ll sell it. I’ve got one man in Cocoa Beach who will buy ten cases at a time. I’m guessing he probably runs through a bottle a week. I’ve got two or three people like that locally.”
Stop by Beasley’s shop on Merritt Island or call him, if you can take the heat.
Montego Bay Trading Company
17 S Tropical Trail,
Merritt Island, FL 32952
321-453-3680 | 800-953-6652