It took three weeks.
One hundred and six packages.
Two hundred and seventeen bottles of hot sauce.
Tons of crowd and brand support, and only two refusals.And a yearning. A simple, dumb yearning coming from the awestruck realization that one day, I was out of hot sauce. It was a reality I thought I’d never face, and from that cosmic upset (and bland plate of eggs) came a project borne from the dead and the archives of my mid-2011 dining hall plates and Razr medium. Spicy Week II: The Spicening. What was strange and surreal turned into an organized project of militant precision. I had a hot sauce bar graph lining the northern wall of my bedroom for a month. I researched into the depths of old webring circles and etsy pages to find my subjects, and now, here we are.Before we begin, there are a few things you ought to know. Almost everything was donated for this project- I have spent approximately $5 of my own money in making this happen. McDonald’s was generous enough to sponsor our McNugget bases, and all the sauces were sent directly from the maker. Like I said, out of some one hundred companies, only two were not interested in participating. The response I got for this project was unreal- take it from me, the hot sauce community is friendly and absolutely gung-ho for an undertaking like this. So, without further ado, let’s start with the mild and go to the wild.
Sauces tasted: 24
Sauce total: 24Dragon’s Blood Elixer Maple Bacon Garlic: This sauce was very mild on the maple, with more of a smoky chipotle and garlic flavor at first, with the bacon following shortly after. 6/10
Shaia’s Hot Sauce, Mellow: Tastes like Mi Tierra’s classic salsa verde with a creamy, thick texture and hint of citrus. Awesome, if a little shy. 7.5/10
Mad Dog Green Amigo: Too reliant on vinegar, and not enough pepper or spice notes to balance out the acidity. 4/10
Saucy Mama Chipotle Dressing: Tastes like/is salad dressing, but creamy with a good little kick. 5/10
Howler Monkey Verde: Heavy with large chunks of raw garlic that were somewhat disconcerting. Nice kick of heat, and a good balance of vinegar and heat. 6/10
Marie Sharp’s Mild Habanero: Habanero and mild sounds oxymoronic- this balanced out the heat with a fruity carrot-heavy flavor. Fresh with a clean, lingering heat. 9/10
Dave’s Gourmet Hurtin’ Jalapeno: Strangely thick, pulpy texture with a strong grassiness and overripe note reminiscent of avocados. 2/10
Grinder’s Wimpy Sauce: Awesome label art, and a flavor like an artisanal sweet chili sauce- mango-heavy with a sharp chili heat. 8/10
Hank Sauce (Hot): Too basic, with a fleeting flavor that disappeared into the chicken, and a strange, watery texture. 5/10
Scotty O’Hotty’s: Very beer-heavy on the nose, with a malty, yeasty flavor that complemented the cumin base. 6/10
Queen Majesty Jalapeno, Lime, and Tequila: Bedfellow described this as tasting “like a hot garden,” and I concur- spicy, with a fresh, fruity lime zest and oil note. 9/10
Tennessee Jim’s Aji Amarillo Vinegar: Nice fermented flavor, and a sweet yellow pepper bite. Very fresh and jammy. 7/10
Firefly Garlic Fire: Very little garlic, very little fire. Basic, but tasty. 4/10
Keenan’s Killer Hot Sauce Mean Green: Really chunky, with a heavy cumin flavor and not enough pepper. Muddled. 4/10
Hot Sauce 4 Good Jalapeno-Poblano: Good, roasted flavor and a decent, back-of-the-tongue burn. 6/10
Chameleon Sauce Original: Strange, strange flavors. Tastes like potpourri. Too pulpy and wet in texture. 0/10
Mad Dog Envy: So much vinegar! Astringent and tangy, with a heavy heat and very little non-acidic flavor. 0/10
Lucky Dog Mild: Nice, grilled onion and garlic at the front of the palate, with a gentle pepper bite at the end. 7/10
Bandar Foods Cilantro Mint: Pervasive chickpea flavor, and an odd texture from the addition of chickpea flour. Fresh tang when the vegetables were present, and very savory. 4/10
Sunshine Sauce Warm: Warm indeed. Tastes more like barbecue than hot sauce, and a little gritty. 4/10
All Spice Cafe Caribbean Heat: Far too salty, heavy on the sweeter spices with nothing to balance it out. 2/10
Co-op Sauce Hot Poblano: Good ingredients and a basic, clean flavor. 6/10
Sunshine Sauce Sweet: Tasted like sweet ketchup, not hot at all. Very heavy on the black pepper. 3/10
Marshall’s Haute Sauce Serrano Ginger Lemongrass: Very pungent, with a clean, grassy flavor from the serrano and heat from the ginger. Excellent and different, with a complex flavor. 9/10
It was a tough call, but our top three had fruitiness, a gentle heat, and very fresh notes in common– Marshall’s, Marie Sharp’s, and Queen Majesty will go to the top and be ranked along the sauces on the last day, to determine which sauce is the overall winner of Spicy Week! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, where we rank the 31 medium-heat sauces. For more updates and information, follow us on Twitter, #spicyweek.
(Please know that, although we are testing these sauces on McNuggets, these are not sauces that are available at McDonald’s, although they do have an array of sauces that are delicious on their own. We’re currently starting a hot mustard collection in the fridge.)