Made in Virginia 2015: Pennacook Peppers, Virginia Beach

Pennacook Peppers

Elisabeth and Kevin Oelhafen don’t want to hurt you with their hot salsa. “I’m not like that,” says Elisabeth, 51. “I wanted something that appeals to people who appreciate spice, but aren’t looking for pain.” The three varieties of Pennacook Peppers Porch Party Salsa, made in the Oelhafens’ Virginia Beach kitchen, pack plenty of heat. But while most mass-produced fiery dips draw all their heat from one source (usually a hostile jalapeño), Porch Party Salsa is made with a beautifully balanced blend of eight different hot peppers. It’s a more complex flavor, says Elisabeth, “so you feel it in different parts of your mouth without ever being overpowered.” Pennacook Peppers started in 2011 and now has its products in about 40 stores—and that number keeps growing. “It’s amazing to me that people are buying stuff that we made in our kitchen,” says Elisabeth. But the success of Porch Party Salsa is testament to keeping the focus on carefully calibrated flavor, even when the competition is focused on turning up the heat. $6 per jar.

See all the Made in Virginia 2015 Winners!

Overall Winner

Fern and Roby, Richmond


Monolith Studios, Charlottesville (category winner)

Huger Embroidery, Richmond

Duvall Designs, Millwood

Owen Suter’s Fine Furniture, Richmond


Shockoe Atelier, Richmond (category winner)

Rockbridge Guitar Company, Charlottesville

Melissa Lew Jewelry, South Riding

North End Bag Co., Virginia Beach


Belle Isle Craft Spirits, Richmond (category winner)

Early Mountain Vineyards, Madison

Texas Beach, Richmond

LUMI Juice, Charlottesville


Brown Dog Handcrafted Premium Ice Cream, Cape Charles (category winner)

S. Wallace Edwards & Sons, Surry

Swover Creek Farms, Edinburg

Pennacook Peppers, Virginia Beach

Click here to see 2014 winners.

Click here to see 2013 winners.

Click here to see 2012 winners.

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