The Offspring’s Dexter Holland talks success with Gringo Bandito, working with Chronic Tacos & more

Dexter Holland has found global success with The Offspring and Gringo Bandito.

Gringo Bandito was started in 2004 by Dexter Holland, singer for the multi-platinum punk rock band The Offspring. He gave away the first batch of Gringo Bandito as Christmas presents to his friends, yet the response to this new hot sauce was so overwhelming that Holland decided to put it out commercially. Sales were modest at first, and the hot sauce was distributed only in Holland’s native Southern California.

Over 15 years and a million bottles later, Gringo Bandito hot sauce has garnered a worldwide audience and a loyal following. It is now sold in Australia, Japan, Canada, Finland, Switzerland, UK, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Hungary and coast to coast in the United States. From a critical standpoint, can be found in the top 10 of Amazon’s highest customer-rated hot sauces.

In a continued effort to do good and support their local community during the COVID-19 pandemic, Holland and The Offspring partnered last month with Mexican grill Chronic Tacos and Gringo Bandito to serve lunch to qualified local students outside Perry Elementary School in Huntington Beach, California as school-sponsored lunch services had then gone on hiatus for Spring Break. Together, they supplied over 400 meals out of the popular Chronic Tacos Food Truck.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Dexter Holland by phone on May 22, 2020 about the success of Gringo Bandito, the aforementioned collaboration with Chronic Tacos, and whether finding success with hot sauce has any similarities to his success within the musical realm.

Part of the interview has been transcribed below exclusively for Guilty Eats, while audio of the full interview will be broadcast on a June 2020 edition of the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast.

On when Gringo Bandito went from a hobby to proper business:

Dexter Holland: I guess there’s two points. One where all my buddies said, “Hey, you should put this out.” You kind of laugh it off. Then they go, “You should really put this out.” The response I was getting was very real. It kind of made me think about it.

The other one was that we got into a local supermarket chain, just because of an old friend who happened to work there. He got it in there and it started doing really well in this local chain. So that kind of made it feel real, when it’s being sold in an actual establishment. It’s like when you are selling t-shirts out of the back of your car at a club, and then all of the sudden you’re in Hot Topic. (laughs) Then it’s the real deal.

On whether the closure of his Nitro Records indie label led to him putting more focus on Gringo Bandito:

Dexter Holland: I started doing the hot sauce before I stopped doing Nitro. Nitro was so great and it was so much fun and I had a blast because I was making records and putting out records by my friends. The bands that I started the label with, they ultimately grew and developed and moved on and had successful careers. Just the economics of the record business made it really difficult to be an indie label. It was kind of like, “I had a good run with this.” That, I guess, allowed me to spend more time on the hot sauce.

On whether there are similarities between running a hot sauce company and being in the music business:

Dexter Holland: I would call it a “DIY thing,” does anyone know that DIY even means anymore? Do-it-yourself, right? There’s definitely been that kind of ethic in terms of it’s what I love to do, but I guess you call it “small business” in a way, because when we started with the band we had to make our own t-shirts and our designs and record our own records and stuff.

It was kind of the same way with Nitro, we had four people and we just kind of did everything. The hot sauce is definitely the same kind of mentality where I developed the recipe myself and my friends just liked it and we just started giving it out to friends and other bands. It sort of just grew from there. So I suppose there is a parallel.

On working with Chronic Tacos to provide meals for students in Huntington Beach without meals:

Dexter Holland: We’ve been friends, us and the Chronic Tacos guys, for a long time now. They also came up in a very similar way. They had a very small taco shop in Newport Beach, it did really well, they expanded it to a second one, a third one, a fourth one. So I think we kind of just get along from having started small and being sort of from the same area in Orange County. They’ve been a big fan of the hot sauce and they brought it into all their stores early on.

There’s been kind of a collaboration that’s gone back and forth ever since then. So when they actually had the idea, like “Hey, we want to do this because of what’s going on with the [COVID-19] virus, we think it’s a cool thing. Would you like to be involved?” Of course it was easy to say, “Sure, that sounds great.”

On whether Gringo Bandito is on his rider as the only hot sauce available at gigs of The Offspring:

Dexter Holland: (laughs) I’ve requested that we put it in catering, because why not? Everyone’s there, so when we go on tour, the hot sauce goes on tour.

Which is your favorite of the Gringo Bandito hot sauces?