Hot sauce has been a major part of man's eating habits since the dawn of time, when Cro-Magnon men looked at their meals of seeds, roots, nuts, and mammoth meat, didn't put hot sauce on them, and then subsequently died off -- replaced by better-looking, cooler humans who did. So, to celebrate those more handsome, smarter humans, we decided to taste-test and rank the 10 most popular hot sauces in the US. Each sauce was judged on texture, taste, spice, heat, and "how badly we wanted to put it on everything":
10. Valentina Salsa Picante
Founded in: ~1973
Based out of: Guadalajara, Mexico
This dirty-Mexican-joint staple has been made in Guadalajara from a pure combo of peppers, vinegar, salt, spices, and water for over 40yrs, and has a viscosity that falls somewhere between Sriracha and Tabasco, making it a little more substantial than most taco-coutrements. The sour & sweet flavor profile is distinctive, and those heavy glass bottles are damn classy. Problem is, the heat factor sneaks up on you slowly the more you eat (or, for those with high Scoville tolerance, hardly at all), and that strong, citrusy tang can swiftly overpower other ingredients.
9. Texas Pete
Founded in: 1929
Based out of: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Texas Pete first came about when customers at the Dixie Pig BBQ stand in Winston-Salem asked for a spicier sauce, and the DP owners started casually messing around with chili peppers. They were going to call the sauce "Mexican Pete", but the dad of the guy who ran the place said it should be American because they were American, so he started chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!" or something, and Texas Pete was born. And subsequently docked for NOT being from Texas and kind of just tasting like a slightly poorer, more watery imitation of the Louisiana-style hot sauces. Though, on the plus side, Big Boi does mention it in a rap about collard greens.
8. Tabasco Original
Based out of: Avery Island, Louisiana
The OG of this business! Tabasco has been around since Betty White was in her thirties (1868) and was originally made using discarded cologne bottles, so you got a tiny tang of Drakkar Noir as you dumped it out on your mashed potatoes. And, look, I have nothing against Tabasco, but it's not going any higher up the list because it really is more heat than taste -- sure, it makes things hotter, but Tabasco is very heavy on the vinegar side, and basically just tastes like hot vinegar, which would be a great band name. Also, they're one of 850 "official food suppliers to the Queen of England", something you know the dad from Dixie Pig BBQ isn't psyched about.