How a Belizean Hot Sauce became a Global Sensation

by Larry Waight
marie sharp

When you visit Belize, you might notice that a bottle of Marie Sharp’s hot sauce is on every table in every restaurant, diner and bar. How did this popular sharp, named after its founder Marie Sharp, become a global sensation? In 1980, Marie Sharp was in her kitchen working on a sauce made from various fruits, habanero peppers, vegetables and spices from her farm. She came up with a concoction that she thought was pretty good, and most of her neighbors agreed. Marie began selling her tasty sauce to local restaurants. She cooked the sauce in her kitchen and had one family member as an assistant. Today, Marie Sharp employs 20 people at her factory in the Stann Creek District. The factory distributes sauces, jams and other products to restaurants all over Belize, Central America, and the world.

International Recognition

Mrs. Marie Sharp herself poses for a family photo.

Hot sauce experts consider Marie Sharp’s some of the finest habanero sauces in the world. In 2016, Marie was inducted into the Hot Sauce Hall of Fame in New York City. She was the first woman to receive this honor. Marie has expanded her line to include more products. Everything uses fresh fruits and vegetables from her family farm. There are now 12 versions of her pepper sauces, including the Original Hot and Original Mild sauces that started it all. There’s an Exotic Hot Sauce made from mangoes, tamarind, raisins, ginger and garlic. Other versions include Sweet Habanero, Smoked Habanero, No Wimps Allowed and Beware.

In her jams and jellies, Marie uses no juices or commercial concentrates. Grab a spoon and try for yourself with banana jam, papaya jam, red habanero jelly and coconut jam. In Belize, squash is a popular liquid concentrate you mix with water to create juice. These squashes come in many flavors including strawberry, fruit punch, papaya and lime.

Take a Tour of Marie Sharp’s Factory

habanero marie sharpsYou can visit Marie’s factory in the Stann Creek District of Belize. Drive through habanero and fruit orchards to the modern facility where workers produce Marie’s fine food products. Take a tour, sample some sauces and buy some goodies at the factory store. The prices are lower than they are for the same products in stores. Ultimately, Mrs. Marie Sharp is an inspiration. You can see why she deserves to have her sauce placed prominently on every table in Belize. 

Related Articles