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The Woman Behind Bitchin’ Sauce’s Dripping Success

Starr Edwards started slinging the almond-based sauce at San Diego farmers markets—now it's a worldwide brand
Bitchin' Sauce founder Starr Edwards
Photo Credit: Matt Furman

Brand identities are often complicated. Companies want to be known as changemakers, earth-shakers, wunderkinds, something so much more than the sum of their products. But if you ask Bitchin’ Sauce founder Starr Edwards what her brand’s story is, she’ll tell you, “We are an iconic dip. We are the American Dip. We want to be around hundreds of years from now, like ketchup.”

Bitchin’ Sauce comes in more than 20 rotating flavors—from a spicy chipotle (Edwards’ favorite) to a Thai-inspired panang and sweet stuff like apple pie and salted caramel—but the same almond base forms the core of each. They’ve mastered the art of doing one thing really, really well. It’s a move that’s clearly paid off, considering that, according to Edwards, the company now hauls in about $50 million in annual revenue.

An assortment of vegetables to dip in Bitchin Sauce's Hatch flavor
Courtesy of Bitchin’ Sauce

Of course, that’s not to say they don’t bring strong, health- and family-focused convictions to the table, values rooted in Edwards’ self-described “hippie” upbringing in Oregon. She invented the recipe that would become the original Bitchin’ Sauce as a teenager, blending together staple ingredients in her family’s raw, vegan household. She was tossing nutritional yeast into liquid aminos at a time when much of America was still fearful of Boca Burgers.

After Edwards and her husband, Luke, married and had the first of their five kids here in San Diego, she carted her childhood snack to local farmers markets, offering samples as a way to promote a fledgling personal chef business. “But I could see even from that first market that [selling the sauce] had so, so much potential. People loved this one product,” she recalls.

They expanded to more markets, calling in friends and family to help produce, package, and vend Bitchin’ Sauce all over San Diego. At their peak, they were slinging sauce at 26 markets. The couple decided to bring their products to stores in 2011. It’s now available at major shops nationwide, including Walmart, Target, and Costco. “I remember selling 30 tubs of sauce at the farmers market and being so shocked,” Edwards says. Today, she adds, the brand sells about 30 tubs a minute.

Bitchin' Sauce flavors original, chiptle and cilantro chili on a wood table
Courtesy of Bitchin’ Sauce

Every Bitchin’ Sauce flavor is vegan and gluten-and soy-free, and several varieties are 100 percent organic. Their SD headquarters offers employees paid time to volunteer with partner orgs and free, onsite childcare, saving the company’s team a combined total of more than $1.5 million in daycare costs.

The success of their company has allowed the couple to invest in other passions. They formed a record label, Bitchin’ Music Group, in 2020, inspired by Luke’s other career as a touring musician.

The company recently launched in Canada, Mexico, Korea, and Australia. Edwards is curious how the product will be received abroad. “These really are American ingredients. The US is the number-one producer of almonds. We have citrus, garlic, everything right down the road from our headquarters,” she muses. “I’m excited to see how it works on a global level. Is this something everyone’s gonna be excited about? Is this gonna be a world- domination situation?”

If so, they might have to change their identity to the International Dip.

By Amelia Rodriguez

Amelia Rodriguez is San Diego Magazine’s Associate Editor. The 2023 winner of the San Diego Press Club's Rising Star Award, she’s covered music, food, arts & culture, fashion, and design for Rolling Stone, Palm Springs Life, and other national and regional publications. After work, you can find her hunting down San Diego’s best pastries and maintaining her three-year Duolingo streak.

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