Facebook's "Chile Monster" Tests New Business Model
August 16, 2012

Photo courtesy of Chile Monster

EL PASO, Texas -- New Mexico's famous chile peppers are on Facebook. That's news that 23,174 (and counting) chile fanatics 'like'.

While researching a story on a Las Cruces candy maker who uses New Mexico chile powder to make peanut brittle, I unexpectedly came across a relatively new online business model: F-Commerce.

F-Commerce, short for Facebook commerce, is a business launched partially or entirely on Facebook. Chile Monster is an example of an F-Commerce that exists exclusively on Facebook. The page functions just like a normal Facebook profile with status updates and photos, only there is also a link to shop directly through the page.

Spend some time on Chile Monster's Facebook page and it's like you've entered a place of worship for chile lovers. There are photos galore of raw peppers, roasted peppers, and bacon-wrapped peppers among others. There are lyrics to songs about chile, recipes for chile dishes and even homages to chile in the form of haikus. Check this one out by Alisha Wilson:

The tears flow freely

as chile burns hotly

Another relleno, please

Chile Monster was launched by a New Mexico native who now lives in San Diego. She writes me in an email that every time she'd go back home to New Mexico she'd leave with a suitcase full of chiles. That got her to thinking, "There must be others like me."

So, partially as an experiment, she launched a chile shipping business that exists exclusively on Facebook. Two years and more than 23,000 likes later, the business model is only getting hotter.

Chile Monster's shipping center is in Albuquerque and its owner boasts that she can ship hundreds of pounds of chile in a single day around the country. While there are other chile-related Facebook pages -- such as Hatch Green Chile that has more than 100,000 likes -- Chile Monster is unique in using the social media platform as a sales outlet.

Chile season in New Mexico just started, and the unmistakeable smell of roasting peppers is wafting across grocery stores and roadside stands all across the state. The famous Hatch Chile Festival will kick off Labor Day weekend.

And if you liked the idea of chile snack that's sweet, check out my story on the Las Cruces candy company.

Look for the chile brittle soon at gift shops in National Parks in the southwest like White Sands National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This post has been updated to reflect the owner of the chile shipping business is female.

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