Details You'll Want To Know About Shark Tank's I Love Chamoy

When her father was diagnosed with diabetes and couldn't find a suitable version of his favorite treat, Annie Leal got creative and produced a sugar-free version of chamoy, the popular sweet, sour, and spicy Mexican condiment used as a flavor in a staggering array of products, from candies and ice cream to potato chips and pizza. The result is I Love Chamoy, a fast-growing company that was showcased during an October 27 episode of "Shark Tank," as part of the franchise's first-ever "Shark-O-Ween."

The journey wasn't easy for the Latina-owned company. In fact, Leal poured her life savings into the venture, which launched in 2021. It took time to get the recipe right (44 tries, to be exact), but Leal's background in social media and marketing came in handy when it was time to promote the burgeoning brand. Since her father was the initial inspiration, Leal enlisted him to help as a pitchman on TikTok (her mother now works for the company, too). Viral videos and spiraling sales soon followed, as did a new sugar-free Chili Mango flavor.

It may have seemed like a longshot that Leal would ever get to pitch her company to investors on the long-running reality show. But, a chance meeting with Shark Robert Herjavec in 2017 actually provided additional inspiration for the fledgling enterprise. Unfortunately, however, he wasn't one of the Sharks during Leal's appearance on the show. Instead, she pitched the idea to "Shark Tank" regulars Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O'Leary, and Lori Greiner, as well as first-timer Jason Blum, CEO and founder of horror enterprise Blumhouse.

I Love Chamoy is healthier than the traditional treat

Making sugar-free chamoy condiments that her diabetic father could enjoy was important to I Love Chamoy founder Annie Leal. In fact, it's why the company even exists. But, as it has evolved, so too has its nutritional profile. In Mexico, where Leal grew up, chamoy products are typically made from brined fruits like apricot or plum, as well as salt, sugar, and spicy chili peppers.

I Love Chamoy uses a different recipe for its signature sugar-free product, with ingredients that have changed over time, often as a result of user feedback. Monk fruit, for example, has been used since the beginning as a sugar substitute. Ancho chilies, cayenne peppler, lime, and xanthum gum are also original ingredients. But Red 40, an artificial dye, has since been replaced with a more natural ingredient: hibiscus powder.

Other changes have also been made to the recipe so that, in addition to being sugar-free, I Love Chamoy products are now carbohydrate- and allergen-free, too. (Yes, that means the condiment sauces are keto-friendly). The sodium content has also been significantly reduced (by up to 80%) relative to typical Mexican chamoys.

I Love Chamoy is a brand built through social media exposure

Annie Leal is an unlikely founder of a food-based company, given, as she shared with Thrillist, "I truly cannot cook to save my life." But she has worked in social media and marketing, and this experience, perhaps more than any other, has helped her turn her company into a success in a relatively short amount of time. I Love Chamoy has nearly 75,000 followers on Instagram, and over 420,000 on TikTok, where her videos have garnered more than 300 million views and 20 million likes. When Leal announced the release of the first 750 bottles of I Love Chamoy on TikTok, they sold out within the first week of availability. In the two years since, she's sold many thousands more. Her latest production run, notably, was for 20,000 bottles.

For context, single 10-ounce bottles of I Love Chamoy sell for $12 each. The products are now sold on the official website, as well as in more than 250 grocery stores. These substantive sales numbers have been driven in large part by Leal and her father's fun social media videos, which share updates, and show them using their product on a variety of different foods.

This hands-on marketing approach has connected the company to a growing contingent of Hispanic entrepreneurs and influencers as well, not to mention an enormous customer base that shows promise for the brand in the years to come.

What happened to I Love Chamoy on Shark Tank

On the show, Leal introduced her sweet-and-spicy brand with plenty of spirited touches, hiring a Mariachi band decked out in Día de los Muertos makeup to play her in and using a piñata to hide her latest entry to the chamoy franchise. Guest investor Jason Blum split open the piñata to reveal I Love Chamoy's new chile-coated tart fruit snack. As the Sharks dined on the treats, Leal concluded her pitch with a deal, asking for $300,000 in funding for a 5% stake in the company. Each Shark was considerably impressed with the healthy numbers of the business as well as Leal's natural charisma but some, including Corcoran, were leery of investing in a product that hadn't yet entered the cutthroat retail market. Others, like Blum and Grenier, didn't even think Leal needed them. 

Cuban offered particularly high praise, noting that Leal was doing everything right from a business standpoint and presenting the perfect pitch. Still, he passed on the deal as he admitted, "It's not my taste."  Only O'Leary made a bid, offering $300,000 for a 15% claim on I Love Chamoy. The other investors urged Leal to pass on the aggressive offer. Next, Leal suggested a counteroffer of 8%, which Mr. Wonderful rejected for a hard, final 12.5% claim. Ultimately, she passed on what she called a "bloodsucking" investment, following Cuban's advice to stick to her guns.