Those who know me well know that I seldom gush about something.  I can be enthusiastic, I can be positive, but gushing doesn’t happen often.

Allow me to gush.

A few weeks back, I received a jar of Happy Hal’s Jalapeno Relish at work.  A gentleman had dropped off a jar in hopes that the company might carry it.  We don’t do new product acquisition at the store level, and my boss, knowing my love of different (and spicy) foods, asked me if I wanted to take it home.  Boy, am I glad I said “yes!”

I brought it home and placed it up in the cupboard with who knows how many other relishes and condiments we have.  I collect food like other people collect stamps or coins.  There’s always another one out there that’s waiting to be tasted, and I’m just the guy to taste it!

The other day we were having hot dogs (old-fashioned, skin-on REAL hot dogs, thankyouverymuch) and decided to try the new relish on them.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but what I didn’t expect was such an explosion of just-hot-enough flavor!  The stuff was good.  Damn good!  It played tricks on the tongue – naturally sweet without being sweet; a spicy and flavorful pepper with a hint of vinegar that enhanced the pepper without overpowering it.  You know it’s there, but you don’t know where it comes from.

The following day it went on burgers.  On a roast beef sandwich; Happy Hal’s Jalapeno Relish is better than horseradish on beef!

I started thinking of a bazillion different ways to use it as an ingredient; in tuna and egg salad, in potato salad, a dollop on cheese and crackers…  Baked into bread, in soups and stews… I use Sambal Oleck a million and one different ways.  I can see myself using this in as many ways, as well.

And with that in mind, I went to their website on Friday to see if I could buy more.  Alas, there were no online sales from the site (more on that, later…) but it did say it could be purchased at the Whole Foods Farmer’s Market right down the road from us, today, between 11am and 3pm.  I put a reminder in the calendar, and right at 11am, there we were.

I spied the booth right away, and to my delight, got to meet Suzanne and Joe Spurlock, who founded and own the company!  I stood there and gushed.  They’re a fun couple, passionate about their product, and really putting their heart and soul into every jar produced.  It shows.  We all chatted away like long lost friends.  It’s amazing how food – good food – brings people together.

Surprisingly, Happy Hal’s is made right here in Pennsylvania!  In Lancaster County, just down the way a piece.  One usually doesn’t associate this part of the world with spicy foods… This is Scrapple Country, home to a minimal use of salt and even less black pepper!    But it is home to good growing.  And  with just two ingredients – jalapenos and vinegar – they have to be the best in order to work.  And, as with any good recipe, the secret is in the quality and ratios.  They nailed it with both!

Happy Hal’s Jalapeno Relish is available in select stores in PA, NJ, DE, and VA.  Right now, one cannot order online from the Happy Jalapeno website.  However, it IS available online at  If the gods are willing, Happy Jalapeno will be selling online, soon!

Buy some, today!

(And for those of you concerned about jalapenos and the latest food scandal, rest assured that Happy Hal’s is completely and totally salmonella-free.  The jalapenos are cooked when making the relish.)