Well, I've been waiting a bit to offer my two cents worth. This might ramble some so you've been warned in advance..... This will also be from the viewpoint of someone who is somewhere between doing this as a hobby and trying to make a serious go of it. Many people complain about vinegar. Unfortunately vinegar has simply too many advantages for it NOT to be used. Many people shun artificial preservatives, artificial ingredients, and such and as a result shelf life becomes an issue. Vinegar offers itself as a pretty good solution to producers. It performs an excellent role as a preservative, and is fairly economical. It is also said to be healthy for you. Many an old timer has bragged to me about the health benefits of vinegar. It is also mentioned extensively in my wifes' homeopathic medicine literature. There are also a great many people that actually LIKE vinegar. Economics is a major factor as well. Using things other than vinegar either means 'artificial things' or relatively expensive ingredients. The vast majority of the public is not going to pay for a $10.00 bottle of hot sauce. I think that most people object to the flavor of vinegar. This is pretty uderstandable. Also, as a consumer myself, I object to paying big bucks for something that is mostly vinegar. There are a lot of different ways to use vinegar and still not have the resulting sauce have that 'taste', except to the most sensitive. I also wonder about the 'big name' sauce vs the 'little guys'. For theoretical example: I sell a hundred of cases a year. I'm now considered a small time, quality producer. The sauce is well received and now everyone wants it. The next year I produce thousands of cases and compete with Old El Paso. I then become one of the dreaded 'mass producers'. What's changed? Another contradiction in general comments is wanting to have a nicely labeled, high quality, good colored, multi-ingredient sauce, for $2.00 a bottle. Many of those things I have discovered are mutually exclusive. It staggered me to find that I could spend more on a label FOR the bottle than I had in sauce IN the bottle. How do you choose? People will say to strike a balance, but that is a pretty subjective thing! I believe it is what's in it, not what's on it that counts, but unfortunately that is not necessarily the best marketing. Taste is a pretty individual thing as well. Someone else's 'truly horrid' might be a large group of others' 'to die for'. I make what I like & I suspect that most of the others do as well. I believe I'm almost to the point where I can tell what part of the country someone is from by their reaction to various things like sweet, vinegar, and fruit. It is becoming increasingly difficult to market a suace that is all things to all people. This is mostly due to our tastes becoming more educated and that is a good thing IMHO. It is interesting (and rather telling about the money in this business) to note the number of people that make their living off of hot stuff. There are really very, very few. Most all of the big name sauce makers who I know have a primary job as well such as a restaraunt or chef. As Luke has pointed out, better bargains are usually found by supporting these people directly. By the time they sell the sauce to a distributor, who in turn sells it to a wholesaler, who in turn sell it to a store, who in turn sells it to you, the price has gone up quite a bit. Neither good nor bad, it's just the facts of life. Gereral comments also mention quality ingredients. It is sometimes scary to see what happen to you when trying to purchase ingredients in large quantity from the open market. Growing your own is certainly the best way to go but that is not a cheap proposition and is fraught with difficulties of its' own! I've been forced to plant as late as mid- July (when I normally start harvest!) and have been frozen out as early as mid-September. As stated at the onset, this has rambled a bit. I've tried to let you see a little more of what goes into a hot sauce in all of its' apsects. As always, I certainly haven't intended to start any debates- just wanted to offer a little insight. Hope this helps! -Jim C MWPH I also got booted from the list server for a week or so, so I apologize if I've missed something I should have replied to.