The Black-owned business ventures into the Seattle sauce scene.

Ingesting even the tiniest drop of Hot Jawn, you can’t help but think, This would go great with wings. Or, according to Hot Jawn founder Joe Norris, Mexican food. And Italian food. Not to mention eggs, pizza, stews, soups, ramen, and pho.

The pandemic iced the Central District resident’s dream of opening a wing and fry shop. While others turned to breadmaking to cope with quarantine insanity, Norris turned to hot sauce. He’d  planned to make his own for the shop anyway, so he went to work to make something “Kind of like a buffalo sauce, but not. Kind of like a Sriracha, but not.”

Hot Jawn, born of this tinkering, has a rusty, orangey hue, and in terms of consistency falls just shy of Sriracha’s viscousness. To get technical, Norris considers it more of a "spicy condiment," distinguishing it from the more liquidy, textbook hot sauces like Tabasco or Cholula. To Norris, the sauce was so revolutionary that he jettisoned his creation into a business, and spent the next year perfecting the recipe.

Right now, fans of hot sauce—and fans of supporting Black-owned businesses—can buy his CD-based “spicy condiment” online. In the next few months Norris hopes to expand to local stores and restaurants.   

The Philadelphia native named his creation for the city’s slang term Jawn, which can replace just about any noun (i.e., calling a jawn on the jawn to talk about Hot Jawn). Right now, Norris is busy inserting Hot Jawn into Seattle’s robust ecosystem of hometown hot sauces. But he’d still like to open a wing-and-fry sports bar someday, with a focus on Seattle and Philly sports teams.

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