COURTESY OF ANTHONY PATTON
For 30 years, Anthony Patton has been bringing jalapeno snacks to football parties. It wasn't until a few years ago that he realized he wanted to bring his own jalapeno party to us.
The St. Louis resident's penchant for pairing jalapenos, Triscuits and sharp cheddar in his home kitchen in St. Louis would inspire Tony's Sweet Heat Peppers
— a savory and sweet-heat jar of marinated peppers now sold at 37 different places around Missouri.
Patton credits his spicy dreams come true to his mother and his Aunt Judy.
These ladies, who have since passed away, grew up on a family farm in southern Illinois, spending their days canning, cooking and pickling. Patton says they were the perfect people to help put the "pep" in pepper.
Before Patton became a jalapeno wizard, he was a debt technician for eighteen years, working for a company that removed hail damage across the U.S. When he got the itch for something more, he created Tony's Sweet Heat Peppers without any formal chef's training or culinary education.
"I put a lot of heart into what I do," Patton says. "I love making it every day."
He now works full-time with his pepper business. A local co-packing company packages his product to distribute to places around the state, including Main Street Market place
in St. Charles, Kenrick's Meat and Catering
in south county and RedDoor Liquor
And the pepper mix isn't Patton's only product.
Eight months ago, Patton also got the idea for a Bloody Mary drink mix. In addition to the classic tomato-based cocktail, it can also be used for cooking. Patton is famous for the chili that he makes with it.
"You're able to use [the peppers and mix] with so many different foods," Patton says.
Patton, 54, now spends his days distributing his product around St. Louis, attending tastings and demos at places like Friar Tucks and Lucas Liquors.
On his business' Facebook page
, the company is labeled as "Big Tony's Sweet Heat Peppers." Patton says the "big" is derived from him being a big guy.
"My ex-partner at the time was like 'We need to call this 'Big Tony's,' and I'm like 'OK,' so we just came up with it and stayed with it," Patton says.