By KEVIN HOOVER
Lyle Blackburn is a busy man. As one of the world’s leading cryptid researchers and prolific minds behind the advancement of cryptozoology, he rarely has time to rest on his laurels. He’s an author, musician, documentarian, and frequent guest and contributor to television shows and podcasts. And, for nearly a decade, he was Rue Morgue’s resident cryptid expert.
In building on his legacy, the man that chases the monsters struck out in search of a new challenge, a beast of proportions that even he couldn’t have fully anticipated; that of food production. His new hot sauce brand, Monster Sauce, was launched as a way to give his fans something fun and creative to carry home from conventions. Turns out it was a raging success, selling out instantly, and has become a hot ticket item for his followers. Lyle spent some time with his old haunt discussing his newest endeavor.
How are you doing what you do in a world that’s been shut down for the last year?
Things have changed somewhat since the pandemic, in that I’m usually doing several event appearances during the year, which gets me out there meeting people and maybe getting a witness report. As a writer and a musician, though, being at home is OK because we can work on our craft or otherwise make use of the time. Last year, I released two books, which I’ve hardly ever done before. We also released a new Ghoultown album. So even though I couldn’t do a big tour or book signing, I managed to stay busy and get a lot of new things out there.
Have there been any recent developments within the cryptid community, and if so, what kind of experiences are people having?
I’ve been getting some reports and people reaching out with interesting stories. Everything tends to come in waves. Some of these stories could be old encounters people had a decade or two ago, and they’ll see me on a rerun of Monsters and Mysteries in America or another show and think now is a good time to report things. Unless it’s something that I’m specifically working on for a documentary or book, I’ll file it away after I’ve followed up on it.
Keeping as busy as you do, how did you find the time to launch a hot sauce company?
I really don’t know how I find time to do all this! The hot sauce was intended to be something fun that I could have at my table when I do events. Usually, I have my books, DVDs, Legend of Boggy Creek Blu-Rays, and T-shirts, but then I’ll throw in something cool like patches and other things. My friend Doyle from the Misfits, he has a hot sauce, as did my friend Elvira. So I just set out to do it, with no grand scheme of putting it in stores or anything, it was just something cool that I thought I would like to have. I went through the process to make that happen, and then suddenly I have it and there was a huge buzz that I really didn’t expect. I filmed a commercial with Finding Bigfoot’s Cliff Barackman and that got a lot of attention. People wanted to order the hot sauce, and since events were shut down, I launched online and sold out within 15 minutes! That’s how the whole, crazy idea got started. It was something I thought would be cool and the reaction was quite positive, and I see a lot of potential in the sauce beyond just having it at my table.
How does Lyle Blackburn’s Monster Sauce stand out in the market?
I always strive to put out a quality product, whether it’s a book, an album, or a hot sauce. I think Monster Sauce, with its Bigfoot theme, fits well into both the cryptid and horror markets, to where I have an excuse to be in a store that sells horror things or I can do the gift shops at cryptid museums. There’s a lot of stores that sell Bigfoot-related stuff in tourist towns and my product goes perfect with that. While not everybody is going to pick up a book or black T-shirts with monsters on it, everybody does eat. They see a hot sauce with Bigfoot on it and it stand outs.
How did you develop the recipe?
I worked with someone with a vast knowledge who helped me to create the right product, and I think the sauce turned out better because of it. People who’ve tried it rave about it. My whole family loves it and we’re putting it on all sorts of dishes. Anybody can kind of throw together a hot sauce that’ll just burn your ass, but that was never my intention. I wanted to create something that was really flavorful and universally appealing, and the feedback so far has been great.
It sounds like ensuring you were delivering a high-quality product was a priority.
My little icon is on it, so it definitely has to fall in suit with everything else I do, whether it’s books or music or anything else. I’m pleased that people like it because when you’re launching a food product, that’s ultimately what you want. This isn’t some stupid hot thing that, at best, you’re only using a drop or two of. My hot sauce can be poured right over a taco and eaten, without wanting to steer away from the rest of the meal. I wanted to go for flavor first and heat second so that it can go with a variety of foods and people will want to use it again and again.
What’s the flavor of Monster Sauce like, and considering its rapid success, are there plans to expand the line?
I do envision releasing more flavors. The first one I call Rogue Red Chili. It’s a mild, medium sauce with red jalapenos, green jalapenos, garlic, and vinegar, with some other various spices to complement that. But before I even launched, I had all these ideas and other flavors that I’d like to do. If I can get everything ironed, then I do have at least two or three other varieties of Monster Sauce I’d like to release.
For more information and to order Monster Sauce, as well as keep up-to-date on Lyle Blackburn’s appearances, head over to LyleBlackburn.com