Mister Know-It-All Every Sunday morning (during football season) I watch Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN. On any given Sunday the show includes a segment by the legendary coach Mike Ditka called “Stop It” where he shares his opinions about things in the NFL that need to stop. Today, I will be yelling “STOP IT!” to most of the food writers that have ever attempted to do an article about hot sauce. Do you hear me food writers of the world? STOP IT! Stop writing about hot sauces, salsa, chiles or anything else that you have to learn via Google. There are over 3000 varieties of chiles, over 2000 different hot sauces and countless thousands of other spicy condiments around the world. While the writers are trying to “feel the burn” most just crash and burn, so I’ve compiled a few failures for your enjoyment.

If this is your first time visiting the site then you might think I’m one of those know-it-all food writers, and you would be partly correct. I know-it-all about spicy stuff, but I’m definitely not a writer. You will rarely catch me writing, or even using complete sentences, and you will never catch me writing about things I don’t know well like foie gras, sweetbread or caviar. Unfortunately the following writers decided to forgo wisdom, and they’re trespassing in the wrong cottage…

Example #1:

Source: thrillist.com

We Found the Perfect Hot Sauces to Pair With All Your Favorite Foods

It’s hard to tell if the writer is a victim of the job or an actual chilehead. On one hand he mentions a few respectable sauces like Blair’s and Cajohns, although he ruins any chance of credibility by mentioning Huy Fong Sambal Oelek as a great sauce for Asian food. Huy Fong Foods is the hot sauce equivalent of Budweiser, and before you Sriracha fans try to defend your “cock sauce” you might want to know what you’re eating. Huy Fong Foods adds a preservative called sodium bisulfite. (Click the link, read the last sentence under “Uses in Food” and let’s move on.)

Example #2:

Source: thrillist.com

Power-ranking the 10 best hot sauces on Earth

Two examples in a row from Thrillist.com may seem like I’m picking on their site, but I can assure you that’s not the case. I’m picking on their food writers, and this author must buy his condiments at Walmart. Every sauce on the list is one of the alleged “10 most popular hot sauces in the US”. Most popular according to what data? Valentina is more popular than any other hot sauce not listed? I doubt it sir. Let’s call it the “Power Ranking of Mass Produced Swill that the Average Consumer has come to Expect in a Hot Sauce”! Don’t get me wrong. There are some decent mass-produced sauces. I loves me some Cholula from time to time, but this is a perfect example of being lost with hot sauce. The hot sauce industry is experiencing a renaissance that rivals the craft beer movement of the last 2 decades, and these foochebags (foodie + douchebag = foochebag) are still talking about spicy vinegar.

Example #3:

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Taste Test: The Best Hot Sauce For Bloody Marys

The only thing worse than bastardizing a subject you know nothing about is bastardizing TWO subjects you know nothing about. This Huffington Post food writer managed to not only recommend a bunch of weak sauce, but also managed to use the worst ingredients possible (minus the limes and vodka) to make a Bloody Mary…

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Campbell’s Tomato Juice? Really? How about we use a jar of Ragu instead? That would make a great Bloody Mary!

“We wanted to use the hot sauces you are most likely to find in your local grocery store” is the excuse this food writer uses to justify her choices. Last time I checked you could get Dave’s Insanity Sauce at every Whole Foods in the country. I’m not a fan of Dave’s Insanity, but hopefully you get my point. Now back to test for the best! The winner? Sriodium bisulfacha! I guess they stirred the drink before every sip? A sauce like Sriracha tends to sink to the bottom of a beverage, but that obviously wasn’t a factor in the judging. It was all about taste, and Louisiana Hot Sauce got second place. That’s not a good sign either. Let’s move on to the next example to get my thoughts on Louisiana AKA “The Perfect Hot Sauce”.

Example #4:

The United States of Hot Sauce

These ladies probably did the best job of my examples, but they still failed miserably overall. They start with some quality facts about hot sauce and chiles, and toward the end make a point that it isn’t a “Best Of” list. That’s for sure! It’s more like a “Worst Of” list for some states. The food writer failure is most evident with the state most associated with hot sauce; Louisiana. They chose Louisiana Hot Sauce, which in my opinion is the absolute worst mass-produced hot sauce in the state. (What would you expect for $0.89 per bottle?) The least they could have done was pick Tabasco. Tabasco is awful, but I would chug a gallon of Tabasco before I would put Louisiana Hot Sauce on a bite of food. There are a few quality sauces mentioned in the list, but in many cases they posted links to large hot sauce distributors and skipped the extra research necessary to send the readers directly to the manufacturer. The United States of GREAT Hot Sauce will never be found in the pages of Bon Appetit.

It’s time to stop beating this dead horse before I try to figure out a hot sauce to pair with dead horse. The point of this post is simple. Get out of the grocery store and see what you’re missing! If hot sauce is your passion, then find a local hot sauce shop like my shop in Houston. Need help finding one? Feel free to contact me.

No hot sauce shops near you? Check out our site, or other sites like ours in the right sidebar. Look for multiple positive reviews of a product and buy a new sauce online.

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7 Comments

  • fireheadthomas 2014 Mar 13 / 16:05

    Excellent article!

  • Aztec Emperor 2014 Mar 13 / 17:47

    I estimate there are more than 40,000 individual bottled SKUs…hot sauces, sauces made with chiles, and salsas currently in distribution throughout the world. For collectors it is a vast arena of spicy—however, the industry actually suffers with fact-less (and baseless) SENSATIONALIZED articles, such as claiming it is the 8th fastest growing industry in America, which of course entices more and more products to enter the mainstream, making hot sauce less unique. We reap what we sow.

  • Chilliwillibunter Blake 2014 Mar 13 / 21:43

    The writers you mention are representing consumer choices. Many hot sauces would be too spicy, too hot or unpalatable for an average Joe. Most Joes wanna a sauce they don’t have to think about, and that’s where these come in. Hot sauce have an inflexibility about them. The best liked sauces sell the most, just like other products. If the specialist sauces were so good, why haven’t I heard of them, or my mate Joe. Specialty Wine Merchants, Chocolate shops, Butchers, Delis exist for specialist consumers. Chilehards not Chiliheads are these in this case.

  • Brian Meagher 2014 Mar 14 / 13:03

    I do grimace at times, but I’ll read through the articles and shake my head.

    I have to agree with ol’ Chilliwillibunter up there. This is mainstream media writing for the mainstream buying public, not us. Look who’s leaving comments here.

    They say any publicity is good publicity – at least they are talking about hot sauces… keeping the subject towards the forefront of the magazine buying crowd at the grocery store.

    Re: Example #3 – I have to give HuffPo some credit for the nice slideshow at the bottom, talking about added accoutrements – beef jerky straw? Sure!

  • Duane Langshaw 2014 Mar 14 / 16:37

    Lemmings’ of the mainstream never truly live because they only follow.

  • Rey 2014 Mar 21 / 21:11

    Then what besides Huy Fong Sriracha do you suggest? By the way aspirin kills 100s a year.

  • william 2014 Apr 09 / 19:51

    Right with you.
    We thought the same when we saw the Thrillist piece.
    of course some people like ‘spicy vinegar’; I’m just not one of them!

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