Home News Capsaicin Cartel debuts new ketchup

Capsaicin Cartel debuts new ketchup

Kary-Ann Deer and her husband Nico Hoogendijk, the duo behind Capsaicin Cartel, at a recent tattoo festival in Tyendinaga, Ontario. Courtesy Nico Hoogendijk

Capsaicin Cartel’s latest hot ketchup isn’t just an ode to the Two Row  Wampum – it also celebrates 18 years of marriage for Kary-Ann Deer and her husband Nico Hoogendijk, the couple behind the company. 

Strawberries are the main ingredient in the savoury ketchup, which also includes aji pineapple chili peppers, basil, sage,  and brown sugar. Deer and Hoogendijk named it the Two Row Ketchup because it’s the “perfect marriage” between Kanien’kehá:ka and Dutch influences.  

The Two Row Wampum treaty formed the basis of the relationship agreed upon by the five Haudenosaunee nations after Dutch settlers arrived , and respect inform the relationship between Deer and her husband. Both also have a tattoo of the two rows of the wampum on each of their ring fingers. 

“Because my husband is Dutch and I’m Mohawk, we always considered ourselves partners in our marriage and our life according to the Two Row Wampum teaching,” Deer said.  

“We respect each other’s cultures and each other’s ways, and we don’t interfere with one another. We don’t impose our thoughts and views and spirituality on each other,” she added. “We wanted a product that would emulate that.” 

The two have long had their eyes set on creating a product that would do just that. Deer initially thought of creating a hot sauce incorporating the three sisters: corn, beans, and squash. But it was ultimately Hoogendijk who pitched the winning idea, when he suggested a strawberry-based ketchup, she said. 

“I said, ‘That’s our Two Row sauce,’” Deer said. “Everything just came together, and within two days we had a sauce made, labelled, bottled, and ready to go.”  

About 50 bottles ketchup sold out after the couple set up a booth at the Indigenous Tattoo Gathering earlier this month in Tyendinaga, Ontario. 

“The response was incredible. People were buying three or four bottles at a time, and then later in the day they came back and bought more,” Hoogendijk said. 

The ketchup is also soon expected to hit the shelves of local businesses in Kahnawake like Mohawk Gas on Highway 138 and Rover & Daisys on Highway 132. 

The couple described the ketchup as mild hot sauce. It goes well with just about anything, they said – on burgers, fries, hot dogs, or tortilla chips, like a salsa. It’s, above all, savoury, Deer said. 

The Two Row Ketchup includes a mix of Kanien’kehá:ka and Dutch influences. Courtesy Nico Hoogendijk

“Even though the majority of the sauce is made from strawberries, the strawberries aren’t that sweet. It doesn’t give a sweetness like you would expect it to,” she said. 

The design on the bottle, which features a Kanien’kehá:ka women with face tattoos, was generated using artificial intelligence. Hoogendijk wrote in the prompts used to generate it, while Deer added the final touches, like the Two Row Wampum and the company logo.   

Since founding their company during the pandemic, the pair have racked up numerous awards for their sauces.  

Their Umami Dragon hot sauce won gold last year in the hot category at the YOW! Awards, which celebrates hot sauce producers across North America. Serum 22, a fiery German-style BBQ sauce of theirs, was also awarded a gold medal  

This past February, the two also earned two silver medals in the most unique and hot category at the Heat Wave Hot Sauce Expo in London, Ontario, for their Hautburger hot sauce. Their Noir black garlic hot sauce was also awarded a bronze in the mild category there. 


This article was originally published in print on May 31 in issue 33.22 of The Eastern Door.

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Miriam Lafontaine is a reporter with the Eastern Door. Her work has appeared in Le Devoir, CBC Montreal, CBC New Brunswick as well as the Toronto Star.

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Miriam Lafontaine is a reporter with the Eastern Door. Her work has appeared in Le Devoir, CBC Montreal, CBC New Brunswick as well as the Toronto Star.