All Bill Howard set out to do was to duplicate a wing sauce he had loved at an Atlanta restaurant. What he ended up with was something better that became the basis for his business.

Wild Bill’s Sauce in Gulf Shores is enjoying its best year since it launched in 2013. In January, the company’s original sauce took the top prize in both the “Cook-Off Food: Wing Sauce Hot/X Hot” category and the “Best Cook-Off” overall category at the ZestFest in Texas. It followed that up in July with a first-place “Flave Award” at the International Flavor Awards in Wisconsin.

Not bad for a happy accident eight years ago.

Howard had moved to Gulf Shores from Atlanta and had opened a restaurant. He readily admits he was trying to copy a recipe from a restaurant with a hot sauce that he loved.“All of a sudden, it went in a completely different direction and people were like, ‘That’s better than what you’re trying to do,’” Howard said.

Still, Howard didn’t have plans to build a business around his new creation. He was satisfied to make it for friends and bring it to parties.

Although it says “wing sauce,” Howard likes to stress that it’s not just for wings.

“It’s really fantastic on anything,” he said. “We’ve won awards for recipes that have it on shrimp and mixed in with some other things.”

In addition to the Classically Original Wing Sauce, Wild Bill’s makes a Classically Original Hot Sauce, a Sweet & Spicy Wing Sauce, Ghost Hot Sauce and a Carolina Reaper Sauce. An Asian-flavored sauce is in development.