Are you more of a Tabasco person, or are the spicy chili peppers of Southeast Asia the ones that get your mouth watering? Should hotness be combined with salty flavors or rather sweet ones? Whatever you believe and whatever your preferences, if you are one of those people who feels that “spicy” is never quite spicy enough, National Hot Sauce Day is the perfect day for you!
History of National Hot Sauce Day
Humans started using chili peppers and other such spices thousands of years ago, with many historians believing that chili peppers were one of the earliest plants harvested by humans. Back in this era, historians believe the recipe was a simple mixture of peppers and water mixed into a liquid or thick paste.
In South and Central America, there is evidence of chili peppers being used for cooking as early as 6,000 years ago, but they did not reach Europe until the 16th century when Portuguese and Spanish explorers began sending all sorts of unusual foods from the New World back home.
The first hot sauce to be available in a bottle appeared in shops in the state of Massachusetts in the year 1807, and then suddenly, hot sauce was everywhere and being added to everything. Tabasco sauce is one of the earliest brands to have come into existence that still exists today, being bottled and sold for the first time in 1868.
Today’s recipes contain a wide variety of peppers, and many food enthusiasts argue passionately about which pepper makes the best sauce. Some of the most commonly used peppers are jalapeños, reapers, Thai chilies, cayenne peppers, serranos, and ghost peppers. The hottest pepper in the world is often considered to be the Carolina Reaper, with a Scoville rating of 2,000,000 (the average jalapeno pepper ranking at only 3,500 Scoville Heat Units)!
National Hot Sauce Day Timeline
Explorers to the New World experience chiles
It is believed that Christopher Columbus may be one of the first explorers from Europe to taste chiles. He names them “peppers” because of their spicy flavor that is similar to the black peppercorns he was looking for.
Hot Sauce first appears in America
In the north eastern state of Massachusetts, newspaper advertisements show that hot sauce appears on the market around this time and is sold as “cayenne sauce”.
Tabasco Pepper Sauce is first created
Edmund McIlhenny feels that the diet of southerners in the US is a bit bland, so he plants a crop of commercial peppers and creates his classic Tabasco pepper hot sauce.
Buffalo Wings are invented
One of the quintessential carriers for spicy, peppery sauce, Buffalo Wings take shape in Buffalo, New York when a restaurant owner makes a late night snack for her son and his friends. The restaurant owner’s son and the hot sauce supplier later go on the road together, promoting the use of hot sauce on fried chicken wings.
Sriracha Sauce hits the market
A refugee from Vietnam, David Tran, starts a company in California and names his hot sauce after a city in Thailand: Sri Racha. The sauce contains not only chili peppers but also other ingredients such as garlic and sugar. The hot sauce becomes almost an instant hit.
An Important Distinction
While a real hot sauce lover will know the answer to this question immediately, you may not. Is hot sauce and sriracha the same thing? Many recipes use them interchangeably, but to be a spicy food fan, it is important to know the difference!
Hot sauce and sriracha, while being used in the same way, are usually not considered to be the same thing. The most noticeable difference between the two is the texture, with the hot sauce being more of a liquid and sriracha being a thicker paste. However, there are more subtle differences that separate the two.
According to most chefs, the flavor profiles are distinct from each other, with sriracha containing additions of sugars and garlic, while also being less spicy in many ways. However, even with its differences, many still agree that you can enjoy sriracha in the same ways.
How to Celebrate National Hot Sauce Day
Tongue-burning food-lovers unite! National Hot Sauce Day is the perfect excuse to enjoy the feeling of fire in your mouth all day long. The best way to celebrate this smoking hot holiday is to get together with like-minded people who aren’t afraid of a little spice. Spend the afternoon sampling different hot sauces from all over the world.
According to a survey in 2014, the world’s ten best hot sauces are:
- 10. Valentina Salsa Picante: This sweet and sour hot sauce has a citrusy tang to it. Made in Mexico, this sauce is sure to add a kick to your meal.
- 9. Texas Pete: This sauce was made by accident at a little family-run restaurant in 1929 and is a bit weaker than most Louisiana-style sauces. Most commonly seen in American restaurants alongside Tabasco, Texas Pete is a staple.
- 8. Tabasco: This is a classic, there’s no doubt about it. It contains more vinegar than other hot sauces tend to, adding a punchy kick full of flavor for any meal.
- 7. Tapatio: This hot sauce is also a bit sweet, with a distinct garlicky flavor. Tapatio is often enjoyed in Bloody Mary drinks as well.
- 6. Louisiana Hot Sauce Original: This is Louisiana’s number one hot sauce, and we all know those Cajuns know a thing or two about spice.
- 5. Huy Fong Chili Garlic: Long story short, this stuff is thick, hot, garlicky, and delicious.
- 4. Frank’s Red Hot: This is the main ingredient in buffalo wing sauce. ‘Nuff said.
- 3. Crystal: People from Louisiana (yes, Louisiana again) swear by this stuff.
- 2. Cholula: This delightfully hot Mexican sauce is made from pequin peppers that are 7 times hotter than jalapenos.
- 1. Huy Fong Sriracha: It’s no wonder the fame of this sauce reaches far and wide. It’s spicy, salty, and seems to go well with almost everything. This is definitely a favorite the world over.
For the avid hot sauce lover in your life, consider a gift they’ll never forget, a hot sauce sampler gift. These contain a variety of themed or regular hot sauce bottles from around the world. For the most daring of taste testers, grab a few friends, and try out the Hot Sauce Pain Challenge: a set that ranges in levels from mild to severe heat. For those who are craftier, consider buying a hot sauce-making kit, a perfect family or friend activity that results in a delicious and spicy outcome.
So, what are you waiting for? Get a few friends together, buy lots of milk to wash these sauces down, and let the sampling begin! And if you’re feeling guilty about doing this to your poor stomach: don’t. Spicy foods fight bacteria and can help speed up your metabolism, so if you only do this every now and then, think of it as doing your body a favor.