During his playing career, Joe Horn was an electrifying receiver who made play after play even though opposing defenses were keyed in on him week after week. Horn became a fan favorite during a career which saw him set the Saints career mark in touchdowns and make the Pro Bowl four times in five seasons. But what the fans loved even more than his production was the way he played and fought for every inch every time he had the ball.
Even though his playing career is over, “Hollywood” Horn is grinding it out in a different arena: the business world.
“I knew I’d go into business but I didn’t know what venue I’d go into,” said the Saints 2010 Hall of Fame inductee. “So when I retired, everyone thinks they can barbecue, so my brother said, ‘Joe you need to put this in a bottle man. Let people taste this.’ I love to barbecue. This is my product. I stand by it. I guarantee it.”
Building something from the ground up is nothing new to Horn. After playing two years at tiny Itawamba Community College in Fulton, Mississippi, Horn found himself working at a Bojangles restaurant in Fayetteville, Mississippi with no prospects of playing football as a career. Down to the final $6 in his possession, Horn spent $3.99 on a Jerry Rice workout video from a local Blockbuster and studied the drills and moves Rice performed in the video. Horn then made a highlight video of himself working out and sent the tape to multiple professional teams across America and Canada. One response Horn received was from the Memphis Mad Dogs of the CFL, who offered him a contract after viewing the tape and in his first year accumulated 1,414 yards on 71 catches. The rest is history.
But what set Horn apart from other players during his career was his love and appreciation for the fans, something which is still evident to this day. The impact he made for the Saints organization and the city of New Orleans in the post-Katrina aftermath is something residents of New Orleans will never forget. The first $2,500 Horn made off of Bayou 87 was donated to the New Orleans Women’s Shelter, after just three weeks of selling the sauce.
“I grew up in a single family home,” Horn said. “My mother raised me. The first opportunity I had to give back, that’s the first organization I reached out to.”
Since the end of 2011, Joe and his business partner Greg Tolver have been travelling around the country making in-store appearances, meeting fans and promoting the sauce. At a stop at Rouse’s Market in Lafayette, Louisiana on Super Bowl Sunday, anyone who purchased a case of Bayou 87 was eligible for a drawing at the end of the promotion. The winner received tickets to next season’s first Saints game, a pregame visit to the field, a visit to the skybox and VIP area, and the opportunity to watch the entire game with Joe. Joe remains as committed to his fans as ever.
Bayou 87 is available in two flavors: Classic Flavor and Cajun Classic Flavor. I tried both flavors on some chicken I barbequed on the grill, after I marinated it for about three hours. Prior to tasting Bayou 87, Sweet Baby Ray’s had been my default BBQ sauce of choice because it wasn’t that expensive and it tasted pretty good. But upon comparing it to Bayou 87, there was an immediate difference, not only in taste, but in texture of the sauce; I never noticed how runny Sweet Baby Ray’s was until I compared it to Bayou 87. Not only was it a thicker sauce (thanks to not being loaded with just sugar), but it also had bits of real seasoning that added even more flavor. The thickness of Bayou 87 also made it an ideal marinade, because the sauce sticks to the meat and doesn’t run off to the side so you have to constantly re-apply or flip the meat. Also, the sauce retails for only $2.99 a bottle, which is amazing considering how superior it is to the similarly priced Sweet Baby Ray’s.
One bite into the chicken, I could immediately tell the difference; it really added to the flavor of the meat. I slathered more on the chicken after it was done cooking and it was amazingly good. It was sweet but not sugary and had a nice kick to it. It wasn’t hot or spicy but was full bodied. Both flavors (Classic and Cajun Classic) include natural ingredients like red ripe tomatoes, dried onions and dried garlic. The Classic has an immediate kick to your taste buds and is immediately augmented with a sweet taste. The Cajun Classic Flavor is definitely a spicier blend and brings a little more heat and kick, which you’d expect from any Cajun sauce worth its salt.
Check out Joe Horn’s Bayou 87 BBQ Sauce at http://www.joehornbbq.com/. And follow Joe on both Twitter (@JoeHorn87) and on Facebook. Joe answers all Tweets he receives and does as much on Facebook as he can, a point that Joe emphasized.
“I love my fans and wouldn’t be anywhere without them.” He’s also making personal appearances every week to sign autographs, take pictures and let fans try the sauce.
“People ask me all the time on Twitter if this is the “real” Joe Horn. And I tell ‘em the same thing every time: 6-1, 212 pounds of twisted steel with sex appeal. It’s your boy HOLLYWOOD 87!!”