Creator’s death reminds city of mambo legacy


Graphic by Saige Gootman

Sarah Morgan

DC natives tend to be mambo sauce aficionados, considering they are the originators of the sweet, sticky substance. Capital City Mambo Sauce is the most prevalent mambo sold in stores, and (like many others) my family always keeps a couple of bottles of in our pantry. 

So my family and city alike were devastated when one half of the married duo behind Capital City Mambo Sauce, Charles Jones, died recently of a heart attack. Arsha Jones, his wife, said that “When people normally see the company, they see me… and it’s really only because I was standing on his shoulders.” She added that while he might have been behind the scenes publicity-wise, “when it was talking to customers one-on-one, he was the one who was front and center. He was actually the social butterfly of the family.” 

Capital City Mambo started at Eastern Market, among lots of other DC entrepreneurship and locality. There are many staples of DC culture, but mambo sauce is the most well-known fare of our region. Wilson junior Godloves Tata agrees. “I like that part of DC culture. It’s something that we can say we have, that other people can’t really claim… Compared to when people steal our slang and lingo… It might, at a point, eventually become a worldwide thing, so I could say that I been knew about it, y’all late,” Tata said. Tata’s opinions are in accordance with the hopes of the Joneses. Arsha Jones said that she and Charles had hoped to spread mambo to the national level. 

Aside from its cultural connotations, Tata raved that “it’s a good sauce to put on when I’m tired of ketchup and barbeque sauce, it’s something different,” emphasizing how well it goes with chicken.

Several Wilson kids feel similarly, including junior Amei Nickens. “I feel like it’s one of those things that is special to us because while some people don’t know about it, the majority of us do.” She also praised its use on chicken. 

Nickens and Tata are correct—mambo sauce is special to DC, and it should be appreciated as one of the few food items we can claim as our own. Charles Jones saw the importance of mambo, and we should too. His passing should remind us of how lucky we are to live in a place that’s so full of culture.