Choosing a “best” hot sauce is an impossible task; like naming the best episode of The Simpsons or a favourite kind of cereal, debates about these fiery condiments are always sure to be heated. Inspired by Complex’s Hot Ones, Verse Editor Jesse Neill puts his mind, body, and bowels to the test (as well us using up as many cringeworthy puns as possible in the process) for this edition’s volcanic review of hot sauces. So, grab a glass of cold milk, a cucumber, and some white rice – things are about to get spicy.
*SHU = Scoville Heat Units (the common measurement used to indicate the spiciness of a chili)
Franks RedHot: 450 SHU
Starting off with a bang, Franks has a delicious little kick that is sure to get your tongue warmed up. It also holds the honour of being the main ingredient in the first ever Buffalo Wing sauce. While this would never usually be a problem, in this case it leaves everything tasting like Buffalo Wings, and sometimes in life (rarely) you just don’t feel like wings. Even though it’s the first on this list and there’s a sweetness to its tart, consume enough of it and it’ll still be as painful as self-flagellation.
Huy Fong Sriracha: 2,200 SHU
What do you get when you mix chili, sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulphite, and xanthan gum? No, not a bomb, rather the king of hot sauces that’s quickly taking over the world. Pretty soon students will praise the Sriracha legend before class every day, and we will measure history in two times: BS, the destitute time ‘Before Sriracha’ and A HOTASS, ‘Arrival of the Honourable, Or Truly Amazing Sriracha Sauce’. It’s so good you can put it on anything, even stuff you don’t enjoy or eat like uni assignments and taxes –they’ll become a whole lot better (if not a little soggy).
Cholula: 3,600 SHU
Now I’m starting to sweat a little bit. In a world dominated by Sriracha, it’s easy to forget about this hot sauce staple. I’m referring to good old Cholula, the iconic wooden-topped Mexican hot sauce with a seemingly calm woman pictured on the front label – a stark contrast to how you’ll actually be looking after consuming this. The pain is a creeper, you don’t know it’s coming and by the time you do, there’s nothing you can do but ride the heatwave. This stuff’s so hot it could fuel itself from Mexico to Australia, so be prepared for a little Latino spice.
Tabasco: 3,750 SHU
Ah Tabasco, the OG of hot condiments. The barrel-aged sauce has been around since Prince Charles was a child (1868) and used to be made with old cologne bottles. So not only would you get a tinge of Old Spice as you swirled it on your bangers and mash, but you now know what ol’ Charley smells like too. It can’t be denied that this will spice up your meal, but they went a little heavy-handed on the vinegar. This leaves your food tasting like hot vinegar, which is a great band name, but not such a good addition to your meal. Better hidden in a Bloody Mary than anything else.
Nando’s Extra Hot Peri Peri: 35000 SHU
Shit. Which is exactly what you’ll be doing after trying this one. While this is not blindingly hot, it’s enough to impair your vision for a few minutes. It’s citrusy, garlicky, and addictively moreish; keep in mind though, it’s very hot and will leave your mouth roasting more than a turkey on Thanksgiving. But, just like a lousy ex, it’s addictive pull will keep you coming back for more, even though it hurts. It hasn’t caused me to shit the bed yet, but it is a good laxative, so be prepared for anything if you have too much of this dangerously addictive liquid.
The Source: 7.1 Million SHU
Warning: not to be used as rat poison, paint stripper, jet fuel or fire accelerant (although those are probably all more acceptable uses of this hot sauce). You know when you have to sign a waiver that this thing is going to be fucking hot. In my five minutes of transcendent torment, my mind was transported to a realm that can only be described as hell, while my body perspired like crazy and my skin turned an alarmingly red tone. If you are going to try this, be very careful and make sure not to touch your eyeballs or any other ball shaped objects on your body after using your fingers to try it (imagine Deep Heat on steroids). Disco Inferno eat your heart out, this stuff burns baby, burns.
Words by Jesse Neill
Illustrations by Sascha Tan