Do you love chamoy? If so, it's not hard to see why. The sweet, spicy, tangy, salty sauce is a popular condiment in Mexican cuisine, used to liven up and accent fresh fruit, Mexican candy, and other dishes. Chamoy -- which also refers to a type of dried fruit and a seasoning blend -- varies among cooks and commercial purveyors, but recipes generally contain dried fruit that has been pickled in a vinegar brine along with pulverized chiles. It is believed to be derived from pickled, dried ume plums first brought to Mexico by Chinese traders during the era of Spanish occupation.
If you love chamoy, then you have that in common with Annie Leal, founder of I Love Chamoy. Actually, you have a lot in common with Annie and her father, the inspiration behind the product. He's always been an avowed fan of the sauce, but chamoy's sugar content was verboten after his diagnosis with diabetes. Sensing her father's frustration, Leal developed I Love Chamoy as a sugar-free alternative, using monk fruit sweetener in place of sugar.
Whereas most commercially available chamoy has 16 grams of sugar and 100 calories per serving, I Love Chamoy has neither and contains roughly 50% less sodium and no artificial colors. Available online, I Love Chamoy comes in two flavors as of 2023: original chamoy and chili mango. Both are sugar, carb, and calorie-free and contain chiles, lime powder, citric acid, salt, hibiscus powder in place of Red 40, and the aforementioned monk fruit. The healthy alternative sauce has gained many fans since its invention and has even found its way onto an episode of "Shark Tank."
I Love Chamoy Wins Big
Developing I Love Chamoy was uncharted territory for Annie Leal (pictured), a marketer by trade. Testing went through numerous iterations, and her unflaggingly honest family told her when she was on the right track and when she had missed the mark. They've even stepped out of the ersatz test kitchen to help Leal run various aspects of the business as she is focused on both product development and managing I Love Chamoy's active social media accounts.
The drive and determination Leal has shown has paid off in more ways than one. In addition to growing her loyal fan base who share how they enjoy I Love Chamoy across Instagram and TikTok, she won the coveted 2022 grand prize in H-E-B's Quest for Texas Best competition. The beloved Lone Star State grocery chain holds the annual event to help it identify the finest Texas-born products available. Leal's win secured $25,000 for her business and a featured spot on H-E-B's shelves.
The Sauce With A Big Social Media Presence
Lest you think that I Love Chamoy is just a couple of sauces, head over to the company's Instagram or TikTok pages for a peek behind the curtain as to what Annie Leal and her family are up to.
The posted videos -- which star Leal, her dad (pictured), and other members of her family and the I Love Chamoy team -- explain the inspiration behind her sugar-free chamoy, offer helpful tips on how to use the sauce, and even offer advice for other budding entrepreneurs who may want to launch their own products. Leal even takes feedback from her TikTok community to heart and switched her product's original ingredient Red 40 for hibiscus powder to please her fans.
Posts on I Love Chamoy's socials also hint at what the company has in the works next, which include new flavors of I Love Chamoy, such as watermelon and pickle. The pickle flavor has already shipped out to some customers, but the spicy watermelon is not quite ready, says Leal in a post to both Instagram and TikTok. The aim, she explains, is for the sauce to be bursting with watermelon flavor, much like a paleta, but it still needs some tweaking.
I Love Chamoy Has Received Glowing Reviews
The real test is how I Love Chamoy sauces are being received by the general public. The company website is festooned with reviews, all positive as you would expect. Reviewer Hortencia C. says that she is "addicted" to the sauce, and Marisa B. says that she can't even tell that it is sugar-free. Roman P., though, says that there is a notable difference between I Love Chamoy and other varieties available, writing that it is less "tangy and sour." That said, he still gives the product five stars and recommends others give it a try for themselves.
On the website Abillion.com the love fest continues, with reviewer Ana Castillo saying that I Love Chamoy is "super well-made & great to drizzle on fruit and gummies." Youtuber Cody Jay Pro gave it a go on the popular '90s snack Gushers and peach gummy rings, finding the flavors to be intense, but well-balanced with the perfect amount of spice. Meanwhile, TikTok health and wellness account takingmylifebackat42 was excited about receiving her bottle in the mail, and told her followers on TikTok that she couldn't resist trying a bit of the sauce on its own when she first cracked it open. She gave it a "20 out of 10."
Read the original article on Tasting Table.