Wouldn't it be great to buy a tasty product that you knew was simultaneously helping a good, local cause? Well, now that's totally possible, with the Dog-Gone Sauce company. Now in its second year of production, animal-lover and full-time traveling refrigeration consultant Jeff Schmidt cares for animals so much, he works in his spare time to perfect, bottle and sell top-notch hot sauces, donating all proceeds to local animal shelters and rescues.
"By trade, I'm a refrigeration consultant for supermarkets. It keeps me fed and happy, and it allows me to [help the animals], giving me the financial means to survive. Plus, I've been investing in the [hot sauce] company to build it self-sufficiently, while still supplying 100 percent to the local animal shelters," Jeff said. "I've done lots of fund-raising for animal shelters in the past. Once the economy started coming back around, I got back on top of the world and started looking into how I can donate. Rather than just write a check, I figured I would invest the money in building this hot sauce company, so the donations can be regular ones, based on the proceeds of hot sauce sales. It all just started popping in my head: the idea, the name, the logo, the spokes dog and cat (Hal Apeno and Cali Ente).
"I work with the Gulf Coast Humane Society, Pinellas Country Humane Society (near Clearwater), the Caloosa Human Society (in LaBelle), one in Indian River, as well as Brooks Legacy, the Golden Retrievers of Southwest Florida, the Pitbull Crew in Naples, the Great Dane Rescue of the Commonwealth, and other places like that, doing what I can to help these animals in need."
Local man and animal-lover Jeff Schmidt started the Dog-Gone Hot Sauce company to donate proceeds to animal shelters and rescues, while providing the public with tasty, mouth-watering recipes. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.
When he's not traveling for his full-time job, to keep his travel time a little lower, Jeff tells animal shelters to place a link from his Dog-Gone Sauce website (www.DogGoneSauce.com) to the shelter site, and proceeds from those particular sales will go to the shelter.
"It's all about helping the animals," Jeff said. "If a shelter or rescue puts a link on their website, emails, newsletters or Facebook/Twitter pages, I give them 20 percent of the sale. My goal is to donate 100 percent of the after-tax profits to animal shelters and rescues around the country."
Once his idea solidified and he came up with a business plan (or a few), he teamed up with a good friend, who's been in the hot-sauce industry all his life.
"Over the last year, we have perfected four fantastic sauces that are all cooked, bottled and labeled in the USA, right across the coast in West Palm Beach: Chipotle, Smoky Sweet, Pineapple Honey (with habanero) and Honey Rum," Jeff said. "And, we're currently working on two new flavors: a Red Wine Steak Sauce, and a Strawberry Salsa."
Everything Dog-Gone Sauce puts out is made in a fully-inspected kitchen, meeting all FDA, national and local health department regulations, and comes complete with nutrition facts information printed right on the label a feat that even some international hot sauce companies don't offer!
The flavors of Jeff's homemade Dog-Done Sauces are fantastic. They are extremely flavorful and really give the taste buds a treat. A couple have some "bite" to them, but they are not over-powering.
And don't worry about being surprised by a nip you weren't expecting each of the Dog-Gone Sauces are equipped with their own Bark-o-Meter, letting foodies know just how much "bite"?they should expect.
"We really focus on the flavor of the sauces, adding the bite after the fact, so people can really enjoy the sauces, and not just become overwhelmed by hotness," he said. "These sauces aren't just a condiment ?they're an ingredient. It's fun to play with them and add them to recipes, like pasta sauces, pizzas and using them as marinades."
The sauce flavors
Here's a breakdown of the four flavors currently available at DogGoneSauce.com:
Honey Rum:?This recipe carries a medium "bite" and is so flavorful, with a deep rum/brown sugar flavor. It's fantastic on cheeseburgers and chicken wings.
Pineapple Honey: Beware of the "Guard Dog"?sign on the fence this sauce can have a bit of a bite to it, with flavors of the tropics, intricately blended with a punch of habanero. It goes very well on fish and pork.
Chipotle: This is the first sauce created for the company, and it's delicious on everything even in and on eggs and cheeseburgers. There's a smell of the old Southwest in it, a rich and smoky flavor, with just a slight bite.
BBQ sauce: This sauce manages to carry a smoky and sweet flavor, with just a touch of heat. Usually you'll see a sauce that is either sweet or?smoky, not both. It's definitely tasty on anything: steak, pot roast, burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, you name it!
Ordering and more
Jeff's 100-percent all-natural, gluten-free Dog-Gone Sauces are available for individual purchase on the website (www.DogGoneSauce.com), or as packs.
All four sauces together is the Dog Pack. Just three-sauce packs are the Pup Pack. A package of two sauces, a BBQ?mop and cutting board is Man's Best Friend. Prices range from about $5 and up.
"It's just so fun," Jeff said, who happens to be 364 dog years old. "It's a real riot coming up with these dog-related things."
A friend and lifelong, world-renowned illustrator, Kendall R. Baer, offered his services to create Dog-Gone Sauce's spokes animals: Hal Apeno and Cali Ente. With that, in the works, he has an upcoming coloring book to unveil, as well as a recipe book, again, with all proceeds going to local animal shelters and rescues.
Just go to DogGoneSauce.com for the complete list of great products available, as well as a DogGone map of local locations to pick up your own tasty treat. If you want to order directly from the website, no worries. Delivery is available to anywhere in the country. There are also pages of recipes, jokes, a complete history of the company, and many helpful tips for pet-owners out there.
Along with the thousands of dollars he donates to the local shelters and rescues, Jeff also donates hundreds of animal leashes to the programs.
"The more sales we make, the more we can help these shelters. The more you buy, the more you give. It's a great feeling knowing we're helping such a worthy cause, and supporting a local business while helping a cause. It's very fulfilling," Jeff said.
Joining the cause
Aside from eagerly ordering super-tasty hot sauces from his website, Jeff is now seeking distributors interested in distribution of the products, as well as a business intern, who'd like to help with the business aspect of the company.
If any business is interested in selling the product, or distributing/wholesaling, contact Jeff by calling 645-5770 or emailing him at Jeff@DogGoneSauce.com.
Jeff, as much an avid biker as he is an animal-lover, is proud to unveil his completely redone Harley Davidson motorcycle during the next Big Boy Tech and Toy Expo at Germain Arena Sept. 29 and 30.
He has completely redone his bike to mirror his love of animals and his support through his hot sauce company, featuring jalapenos, flames and plenty more.
"I can't wait to unveil it. It's coming out great so far," he said.
Also in the works, to advance his showing at the expo, Jeff will have two appearances on Fox-4's Morning Blend program, Fridays, Sept. 21 and 28.
He will also be at the Orlando Home and Garden Show Sept. 8 and 9.
"My goal is to be on Rachael Ray and Ellen shows. I want to be able to make at least 101 donations, to 101 shelters and rescues. I think I'll be able to do that if I?had a celebrity spokesperson," he said.
For more information, visit DogGoneSauce.com.