Irvine’s Caribbean Jerk Sandwich Topping Wins Sauce of the Year – Orange County Register

As part of the seemingly endless battle for chicken sandwich supremacy in the fast food game, a topping from Irvine-based restaurant giant Golden State Foods has won its industry’s Sauce of the Year award.

The Association for Dressings & Sauces recognized Zaxby’s Caribbean Jerk Sauce, which Golden State created for the Atlanta-based restaurant company known for its chicken. Zaxby’s, with more than 900 outlets mostly in the southeastern US, used the sauce – a mix of mango, habanero peppers, and spices – on a fried chicken sandwich and boneless chicken wings.

“Authentic, fruity, sweet and spicy,” said Kate Dolan, Senior Corporate Chef at Golden State, of the sauce used on a banana pepper, lettuce and mayo sandwich.

The sauce was supposed to be a temporary specialty flavor and the fast food chain was literally running out of it. When supplies were replenished, the sauce enjoyed a longer stay on the menu.

“As consumers enjoy pepper and spice flavored foods, the ‘spices and heat’ trend has influenced this people-friendly sauce that has just the right amount of heat and a balanced flavor profile,” said Mitch Dingwall, senior director of production at Golden State Development.

The “Chicken Wars” are a high profile fast food battle started by the Popeye chain a year ago. A broad battle for business ensued in a sandwich niche that had long been dominated by Chick-fil-A. Marketing efforts included new products as well as battlefield-themed corporate news.

For example, last month Zaxby announced in a “Bulletins from the War Room” press release that another sandwich flavor and new camouflage uniforms would be introduced for restaurant crew members. The new menu item includes Spicy Zax Sauce, another collaboration with Golden State.

The Golden State division, which makes sauces, dressings, condiments, syrups, and dessert toppings, has a new manager.

Ryan Hammer has been promoted to senior vice president of the company to oversee the Liquid Products North America sales team and continue to lead Quality Custom Distribution – suppliers to major fast food chains that moved from Irvine to Texas last year.

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