Really this should come as no surprise, given last year General Electric showed up to SXSW with a BBQ Research Center and its "Brilliant Super-Smoker" to drop some science on both cooking techniques and what BBQ does to your brain. Now the brand has teamed with Thrillist to engineer a hot sauce made with one of the hottest peppers on Earth—the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion—and a bottle tough enough to hold it. And, fittingly, they picked Wilbur Scoville's 151st birthday to announce it.
The bottle is constructed with two key materials, more familiar to GE engineers designing jet engines, locomotives and turbines. One is Silicon Carbide (SiC), one of the hardest materials in the world and a key component of Ceramic Matrix Composites. These "super ceramics" are two-thirds lighter, stronger than metal at high temperatures, and able to withstand 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit in operation, 400 degrees higher than the most advanced metal alloys. The second material is nickel-based superalloys used in the world’s most powerful gas turbine—GE’s 9HA—and able to maintain super strength at high operating temperatures and resist oxidation.
But what does a hot sauce have to do with jet engines, turbines, appliances, or anything else GE makes you ask? This is GE we're talking about. A brand that made a music video out of industrial rail transport, and Jeff Goldblum into the greatest lightbulb pitchman in the history of electricity. After that, a hot sauce is pretty normal stuff.
Alex Drinker, GE's Global Manager of Partnerships and Innovation says the goal is to turn GE's seemingly invisible presence into something tangible. "GE is all around us, but you might not think about it just from the hum of a jet engine or the flip of the light switch," says Drinker. "Playing up GE's leadership in scientific research, we're using food, hot sauce in this case, as a storytelling tool to share the GE ethos with a larger consumer audience. The hot sauce we're developing with Thrillist is a tangible product that communicates what's important to GE in a fun, unexpected and memorable way."
That echoes what CMO Linda Boff told us for Fast Company's Most Creative People in Business 2015, that the 140-year-old brand has never hurt for awareness but must keep finding ways to illustrate its innovation and invention in fun and interesting ways. "One of the things we can do is be as innovative in our marketing as we are in our technology and product development," Boff said.
The new hot sauce will have a limited run of 1,000 bottles, exclusively sold on Thrillist later this spring.