If you've ever tasted a jarred pasta sauce and thought, “I can do better then that” (after one more can of Chef Boyardee, who hasn't?), Dave's Gourmet, known for their Insanity Hot Sauce, has launched a national contest to find America's next great sauce, salsa or dip.

If you win, you'll receive 5% of the product's sales for six years, up to $1 million in royalties. (Here's the fine print.) You might see your name on the label.

To enter Dave's Gourmet Recipe Challenge, submit your recipe for — yes, it must be your recipe — by Dec. 31, via the website.

Sauces will be judged in five categories: taste, appearance, creativity, consumer appeal and the recipe's ability to be mass-produced. The finalists will be judged by attendees at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco from Jan. 15 to 17, with a winner announced on the 18th.

Per the press release, “If Dave has to hand-cut bay leaves from trees found only in the southernmost tip of Italy in order to make your sauce, it might be too difficult for him to mass-produce.” Good point.

Do you trust the internet with your precious masterpiece? Then go for it. If not, you can do what Dave's Gourmet founder Dave Hirschkop did. Dealing with rowdy late-night drunks at his Maryland burrito restaurant, Hirschkop created a sauce so spicy it compelled drunks to either leave or shut the hell up. He found that the hotter the sauce, the quicker they left. The result was Insanity Hot Sauce, which Hirschkop parlayed into a business that now sells dozens of items including drink mixes, pasta sauces, popcorn, nuts, barbecue sauce and more. It's the American dream in cayenne-coated nutshell.

[@elinashatkin / eshatkin@laweekly.com]

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