Howdy, lizard people. It’s late April, so as mentioned in the last House of Pain, it’s (slightly after) the time of the year where hot sauce vendors, connoisseurs, and crazy fucks all converge on the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint (off the Greenpoint Ave stop on the G Train, which wasn’t running because basically every subway line had shit going on, so off the G shuttle bus) for the NYC Hot Sauce Expo, this being the 7th year.
For me this is what, trip number 5? I went once when it was at Penn Plaza, and then I believe the last four years at the Expo Center, if my math’s right. So I think I am officially a veteran and a regular. Hell, I know some people at this point, which I’ll bring up later. And that means I guess I know the lay of the land well enough to bring people into the fray. Nomonkeyfun came with me a couple years ago and had what I think was a pretty good time and didn’t die. I think. This time around, I upped my personal stakes for who I was bringing, because I asked the wonderful Senorita Weaselo to come with me and see just how crazy I am in terms of my hot sauce consumption. And she said sure, even though she had the slightest idea considering the time we got wings, she had a nibble of one of mine, and nearly combusted on the spot. Yes, I got the hot ones. Of course I did. And she agreed anyway!
I don’t think I have to go on about how it looks, because that hasn’t changed. In the outside portion you have your food kiosks, your cocktails, cornhole, big Connect Four, big Jenga, this time around there was foosball, which was new. We didn’t take a spin on it, since when you’re playing on somebody’s foosball table you play with no spinsies because you could mess up one of the players, and that would largely be considered a dick move, human culture or other.
Let’s get some highlights of the show, in what I had.
High River Sauces (once again, the hosts) showed off their newest sauce, Thunder Juice. It’s hot, but what’s more interesting about it is that it’s a tequila-infused hot sauce. And yes, it’s hot, and a bit dark, and a bit fruity. Either way, Padre Weaselo doesn’t drink, but he does enjoy tequila, so I got him a bottle.
Fuego Box (the people behind the Fuego Box, which they send you hot sauce[s] as a subscription service) have two products that I especially liked. The first is the Hot Hive Honey, which is, as you guessed, honey. Infused with Carolina Reaper. Because fuck it, Carolina Reaper everything. I liked it, though I didn’t get a bottle. I’ll have to check with Madre Weaselo (the other honey consumer in the family) about whether she’d like to try it. She doesn’t do heat like my dad or me, but this wasn’t especially hot, but probably not something that you put in your tea. I mean maybe, I wonder what it would be like.
Fuego Box also has chocolate with peppers. And I, being me, picked up a square of the Cocoa Loco, or the Black Reaper Challenge square. It’s made with the Black Reaper, which they said was a cross between the Carolina and I’m tempted to say 7 Pot Douglah. Point is, it’s hot. I had a sample piece of a piece of a shard. It’s hot. Quite so. I got one. I will do a thing on it. Also they give a portion of the proceeds to prostate cancer research, so that’s nice. But yeah, it’s hot. They did a competition, but that happened before we got there. Senorita Weaselo did not try that level of heat.
What she DID try was the DEFCON collection by my friends at DEFCON Sauces, as she got to check out DEFCON 3, 2, 1, AND Cluckwing Orange. I’ve waxed poetic about these wing sauces so I’m not gonna do so now, but I asked about two things—the first was about the Death Wing Challenge sauce, and if there was any chance I could sneak a taste. I couldn’t before the competition. The second was about my favorite sauce from John Dilley’s twisted mind, Curbstomp, which was one of the first sauces I typed about way back with the original House of Pain post. Nobody tell Senorita Weaselo what I said about it in case she asks. And he said it was funny that once John said they were discontinuing Curbstomp everyone came out of the woodwork to ask why! So it’ll be a limited run at some point this summer, and if you miss out, tough luck, you have to wait until next year. So I’ll keep my ear to the ground. More from DEFCON later.
Last time on House of Pain, I complained that Hot Ones’ Last Dab Reduxx was good, but it wasn’t melt-your-face-off good. And for the proclaimed new world’s hottest pepper… once Ed Currie actually gets around to testing it… after the Reaper runs its course… but nothing’s planned of yet… wink wink… I expected face melting, dammit. Well, the good news is I found that sauce! And of course, Ed came up with it. It’s PuckerButt Pepper Company‘s Gator Sauce. This is hot, to the point of that familiar trip to the precipice. 92% Pepper X and vinegar will do that. It’s hot. You don’t taste much else. The fridge for now is full and I need to finish some stuff and clean it out, but this is going on the list of things to get next when I get that fridge space. I’m still getting yelled at because my Queen Majesty sauces are mostly done but not all the way so the bottles are still there.
On the side of things that won’t murder you, I liked Delaware Sauce Company‘s Eaglewingz sauce. It’s not hot, but it’s really good, really flavorful. I’ve got a bottle of Torchbearer Sauces’ Zombie Apocalypse at home, and tried out their Smokey Horseradish sauce which was very good. Their Son of Zombie Wing Sauce was actually sweeter than I expected, and not as hot as I thought. I also had their Garlic Reaper sauce which is quite garlicky, and considering I had a massive glob of it, might have been on the too much side.
Senorita Weaselo tried a decent number of sauces, and as she’s not a pepperhead like I am any recommendations she’d have you’d know wouldn’t kill you. She enjoyed Inferno Farms‘ Pineapple XXXpress, a pineapple and yellow scotch bonnet sauce, which I believe was her favorite. She also tried High River’s Tears of the Sun and Heartbreaking Dawns 1498 sauce, which she admitted she wasn’t ready for. She also tried Blair’s Original Death which she thought was pretty good. I refreshed myself with what Ultra Death tastes like, and it confirmed that yes, my bottle was turning by the end of it as there was a metallic taste. Clearly I need to eat some of these faster.
We also went to my buddy Vic at CaJohn’s, because as I said, he’s my buddy. They were sold out of it, but I got to try out CaJohn’s Black Garlic sauce. The base version isn’t particularly hot, but it has a great flavor of a little bit of spice and a nice helping of garlic and soy sauce. I actually like the normal version better than the Chipotle and the Ghost. The Chipotle adds a bit of sweet and smoky and the Ghost throws in a bit of heat (obviously), but each throws off the balance of the advertised “umami bomb” ever so slightly, so I would actually say that the “normal” version’s the best of the three and would recommend it for anyone, even if they don’t want to feel death by capsaicin. Speaking of, someone make a hot sauce called Death By Capsaicin.
Also speaking of, I did not get a chance to try the hottest sauce at the show. Hellfire Hot Sauce got in on that sweet sweet licensing and made a Hellboy sauce, called The Right Hand of Doom. It has a 6.66 million Scoville (of course) extract in the bottle among other things and everyone who did get a chance said it just tastes like pain. The lines were long when I walked by and I never got a chance to go back. It happens.
I don’t feel like I need to talk to much about the Carolina Reaper eating contest again, because the rules were the same, the big two were the same (competitive eater and former record-holder Wayne Algenio, and owner of Inferno Farms and current record-holder Gregory Foster). This time around Wayne won the battle, besting Greg, but both were well short of Greg’s all-time best (120 grams of pepper eaten within 1 minute done at the Arizona festival in 2016), the Guinness mark. I did not get any Reapers this time around so I guess I’ll just have to wait because noted person definitely trying to kill me tWBS is sending me Reapers among other things this year. I have no idea what I’m going to do with all of them. Reaper-infused vodka or tequila? I mean, I don’t drink much. Stupid shit? I mean, yes. But we’ll figure out what. Probably some stupid things like “put it on instead of jalapeños on my usual Five Guys order” (hot sauce, ketchup, pickles, and jalapeños, bacon if I feel like it) but I don’t have the proper sauce or salsa making equipment. Or a smoker.
But I will talk about the Death Wing Challenge as I previously alluded to. This one is run by DEFCON (of course), and John and Maggie go into their full personas as Creator and Createss, respectively. (Sorry buddy, though I liked how the Deadspin article referred to you two as just the noms de guerre.) And the outfit’s pretty damn fantastic. Here.
A good way to describe it is Clockwork Orange meets Mad Max. Because you got the Clockwork (Cluckwing) Orange hat, and the Mad Max spiky boots. Oh, also they’re competing for this.
Y’know, I didn’t ask if the toilet paper is usable. And whether it’s 2-ply or more. I would hope yes on both counts? Anyway, the rules! Everyone gets 10 wings. You have to obviously eat all 10 wings in order to win. You can’t drink anything during the contest under penalty of disqualification, and you are encouraged to put on your latex gloves before consuming the said wings, and mandated to sign the waiver. After that, John and Maggie were in charge of seeing who had actually finished the wings, which could only be signaled with hands off the table and then one of the two would check. Because those wings had to be clean, or as John yelled, “SUCK THE BONE… SWALLOW MY MEAT.”
We’re not even remotely close to still doing phrasing. Phrasing has never been a thing in hot sauce.
There was a minor controversy too, as one guy put his hands up, John checked, the wings were not deemed clean, so he told the guy to finish them and remained checking. While that happened, a second guy put his hands up, who Maggie went to check on. His wings were cleaned while John re-checked the first one and deemed it clean. There was some conferencing and the right call was made about who won the right to the trophy, no animosity.
The wing sauce itself? I can say that yes, it was hot, and there was definitely something I correctly surmised was their extract, DEFCON Zero, now ava—never mind, they’re sold out, this was the last Trinidad Scorpion batch, the next batch will be a Carolina Reaper extract.
Is it the hottest thing I’ve had so far? No. It’s probably not the hottest thing I had that day, that Gator sauce was really nice. Could I eat ten wings with it? I think so. Probably not at the speed needed to win the thing though. Also I had to work Monday, which was the day after, and I don’t need to run to the bathroom while teaching kids how to play violin because there is zero chance I would get their attention back. But I would consider doing it, I’d probably fare better in this than the Reaper contest.
Anyway, I think that covers this report. Senorita Weaselo had a lovely time, and then she took me to go see Us and watched my face at the part when—wait, never mind, spoilers.
Sorry. Next time… I don’t know, I try to cut down on the backlog and laugh at my cooking? Or I (possibly with Padre Weaselo) eat a single piece of chocolate.
Senor Weaselo is still not on fire. But in all, he got a bottle of Thunder Juice and Hellacious from High River Sauces (it was 2 for $10), a free bottle of Louisiana-style hot sauce from peppers.com, the Black Reaper Cocoa Loco from Fuego Box, and a thing of PuckerButt’s Reaper Jerky for Padre Weaselo. He recommends not trying to eat the whole thing in one sitting, as you will be making more than one sitting.