SCRANTON - As part-owners of Kelly's Pub and Eatery in South Scranton for the last 22 years, Peggy Cosgrove and Kathleen Cosgrove Fritch have seen their share of hot wings.
In a new business venture separate from Kelly's, the sisters have branched out and created a hot wing sauce inspired by the restaurant that's ready to use out of the bottle.
"We told the bottler that we wanted the flavor of finished wing sauce," said Fritch, 42, of Waverly. "When you go to the grocery store, you're stuck with Frank's Red Hot and you have to figure out how to make it."
Whether you prefer mild, medium, or hot sauce, Peggy's Wing Sauce takes the guesswork out of creating a spicy supper or weekend treat with a kick.
The first bottles were finished Feb. 20 and delivered to all nine locations of Gerrity's Supermarkets on Feb. 24. The 7,200 bottles that retail for $4.98 each were filled in Pennsylvania and made using only products grown in the state, Cosgrove, 41, of Scranton's Green Ridge section, and Fritch said.
A Philadelphia-area food consultant helped guide the sisters through the process, and a launch event organized by John Mackey, Cosgrove's neighbor, was held March 2 at the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel in Scranton.
While the new hot sauce mentions wings directly in the product's name, the sisters said they hope consumers will be adventurous with their appetites.
"Since July, we've been eating everything with wing sauce on it," Fritch said with a laugh. "We've been cooking stromboli and shrimp and scallops and pot stickers. We've been trying it on every recipe we could think of."
And even some you might not think of.
Cosgrove raved about deviled eggs with an extra bite, turkey burgers and chicken meatballs, and – believe it or not – a Hot Mess martini made with a little bit of her sauce.
Taste was important, Fritch said, and she and Cosgrove made sure each tier of the hot sauce had the right amount of flavor with the appropriate level of heat.
"The mild sauce doesn't have a lot of heat, but it has that buffalo flavor. I've found that when you go out and have it at a restaurant, it's all buttery," Fritch said.
The pair also made sure the bottles were unique. While each label features a reproduction of Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce President Austin Burke's painting of the Electric City sign as a means to also promote Scranton, the different flavors carry Cosgrove's recipes for hot wing dip, grilled chicken, or grilled shrimp.
Additional recipes and an online order form are available at www.peggyswingsauce.com, where Cosgrove said orders from as close as Archbald and as far as California and Florida have been placed.
Cosgrove said she's drawn some additional inspiration for the hot sauce from students in her family and consumer science classes at Scranton High School.
"They've taught me how to cook," she said. "I have a very diverse classroom, and they've exposed me to all of their hot sauces and ethnic foods from all over the world."
She said students are exited for "Miss Coz" to enter a new realm, and it's already a hit with many of them.
"The other day, they were literally taking chips and pouring it on and eating them," Cosgrove said.
Colleagues in the district have also congratulated her on the new product after spotting Cosgrove's face on billboards throughout the region.
Bottling a homemade recipe for sale to the public isn't a new idea. So many people talk about putting their own sauces, soups, and dips on supermarket shelves, but few reach this stage. The difference, Cosgrove said, is the perseverance she and Fritch shared throughout the process.
"We took this on all on our own," Cosgrove said. "It wasn't easy. It's a risk, but we're willing to take it and we're excited about it."