Hot Stuff

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Hot Sauced MRE's

      There are some things in life that are very good, and very bad at the same time.

      One of those is hot sauce.

      Hot sauce can make an otherwise unpalatable meal something almost worth eating. For proof all you have to do is look at one of the items included in MRE's for the military. "Meals Ready to Eat" are packaged food that is supposed to be able to withstand extreme storage and travel conditions for months on end, endure dust storms and muddy trenches on the battlefield, and still be edible when the troops hack the package open with a rusty bayonet two years after it was sealed up by Uncle Sam's own loving hands after he dropped in a miniature bottle of hot pepper sauce.
      There's a reason.
      After a ham and cheese omelet casserole has been hermetically sealed for shipping halfway around the world. After having been left sitting in a case on a tarmac someplace in an ice storm before being loaded on the plane. After sitting in the sun in the desert for a week before bouncing across the hinterland in the back of a truck. After spending weeks in a tent where gangs of camel spiders and field rats battle it out for supremacy for days on end on its lid. THEN some old grizzled transportation sergeant beats on the sides of the package with a ball peen hammer until it comes open and sits it down on the truck tire he just changed for his dinner. For him, the hot sauce is not a luxury, it is an absolute necessity.

      Little bottles of hot sauce (in this case the name brand Tabasco Sauce) have been put in the MRE's (still called C- and K-rations in some quarters) for years. At one time it was considered a 'taste of home'. At other times, the government might have considered it a vegetable a la Ronald Reagan's school lunch debacle in the '80's. Full, they've been used as money. Empty, they've been converted into everything from Christmas lights to specimen bottles and jewelry. The manufacturer (the T-word is a registered trademark and the Desk doesn't want to overuse it) even has a cookbook which features how one can 'spice up' MRE's.
      For those overseas, and on maneuvers stateside in pretend battle conditions, eating the things, it didn't matter what the meal in the can, or box, or bag, said it was, you dumped hot sauce on it and it was better. The Desk has seen some of those meals and you couldn't actually tell what it was supposed to be just by looking and sniffing. But the Desk is also of the opinion that there are a lot of things gravy will help. Sometimes, gravy and hot sauce as well.

      And now there is Jalapeno ice cream. You can buy spicy beer and sodapop. Why anybody would want to is another mystery that, like the Voynich Manuscript, may never be solved.

[Sidebar to explain obscure Desk reference which has nothing to do with the subject at hand.
      The Voynich Manuscript came to common light in the about 1912 when it was brought to America. Its history dates to the early to mid seventeenth century when it was thought to be a religious document. The manuscript itself is in excess of two hundred pages of hand written text and has withstood all attempts to decipher the language or identify the botanical subjects and mechanical devices it depicts. It has been analyzed by students at Yale and computers at ATT Labs. So far, its intricate diagrams, pictures of naked nymphs, flowers, and flowery text have kept their secrets.
      A recent claim of having resolved it as a hoax seems to be simply a cry of 'Uncle' from a frustrated English researcher. Other scholars have dismissed the claim as wishful thinking.
      The Desk has an overview of the Manuscript here. With Images!
End Note]

      So how hot is the famous 'T' sauce?
      Well, as it turns out, it ain't all that hot.
      No. It's not.

      Now, if you think that Tabasco is HOT hot, so hot that two drops on your fried chicken and you have to call off work the next day, stop reading right now. Because the sauces and ratings we're going to discuss in some depth below might just kill you.
      In fact, it's possible that some of the ones we'll mention really could kill you.

You Can't Handle This Hot Sauce and friends

      Hot sauces are rated in Scoville Units according to how much capsaicin they contain and was originally devised by Wilbur Scoville in the Nineteen Teens according to a subjective tasting method involving a lot of sweetened water. Now it's done through chemical analysis. In either case, laboratory purified capsaicin is rated at sixteen million Scoville Units. You simply can't get anything hotter from natural sources, and yes you can order it online. We'll get to that in a minute.
      Direct contact with anything much over the million mark with actually burn human tissue (and kill taste buds). Hot sauces coming in above half that are called additives and some come with liability wavers you have to sign to buy them, others come in child proof bottles. Many sauces in the 50,000 to 200,000 range come with the warning that they are extremely hot and warn people with heart or lung problems not to use them. Which begs the question- what about stomach problems? will sell you sauces and additives that are so hot there is no sense to it. You can order 'You can't handle this hot sauce' and have it shipped directly to your home so you can scream and whine and gasp in the privacy of your own home when you try it because NOTHING should be that hot (shake the bottle good before trying it because some settling of contents can occur during shipping and handling!).
      Now its time to be honest. The Desk actually likes the flavor of 'You can't handle…' and does use it on occasion, however, it is so danged hot its ears ring and its nose runs for an hour afterward. But that's a good thing.
      You can go into the Peppers store at the beach in Delaware and try it in person. And once you try something like 'You can't handle…' or any of the other extremely hot sauces they have out for your inspection you can buy a cold drink or a cup of coffee to try to cool the lava percolating in your throat. On second thought, buy the drink BEFORE you take a bite of the chip.
      Maybe buy Two.
      The Peppers staff at the store in the Seaside Outlet Mall in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware actively encourage you to try the sauces, dips, marinades, additives and other perambulations of the active ingredient in this stuff.
      Why would anyone want to try something that boasts that one drop will cause the consumer to experience five to twenty minutes of agony ? (Mad Dog 357)
      Or- Keep out of reach of children. Be warned, this sauce contains ingredients 500 times hotter than a Jalapeño chile. (Blair's Mega Death Sauce)
      Why? Who knows? Why do people bungee jump off bridges? Because it's there
      Now be forewarned. Some of these things honestly proclaim:
Warning: Food Additive ONLY. Not a food item! Keep away from children. Skin Irritant. This is not a sauce or condiment. We guarantee this product is 1,000,000 Scoville +/-5% by HPLC, A.O.A.C. Capsaicin Analysis Method.
      And they mean it.

      OK, now, exactly how hot is Hot?
      Tabasco tests out at just over 2,000 Scoville units
      You Can't Handle This Hot Sauce rates 180,000 Scoville Units, or so. 90 times hotter than Tabasco.
      When measured by the High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) method Dried Habaneros register 100,000 plus.
      Scotch Bonnet and Thai peppers run from there to 350,000 units
      OK, that means a Scotch Bonnet pepper is 100 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. Right? Somewhere in the 200,000 unit range.
      So the One Million unit product is how much hotter than Tabasco? Is there any point even figuring it out? And then what do you do with the one that claims 1.5 million units?
      And then you have:

Blair's 6 A.M. Reserve - "USE EXTREME CAUTION! This is NOT a sauce! It is #A3 on our top 20 list of hot additives. This product must be used as an ingredient only! (1 tsp. of Blair's 6 AM Reserve mixed with 1 gallon of sauce will produce extreme heat). It is measured at 6 million Scoville Units! Avoid any and all skin contact!
      One teaspoon, in a gallon of chili, will produce 'Extreme Heat'. And it's over seventy dollars an ounce too?
      We'll pass on that one.

      You Can't Handle this Hot Sauce is only six bucks for a five ounce bottle. That's a lot of burn for just over a dollar an ounce.
      Also they have one that really tastes good and doesn't have anywhere near the heat of the ones we just talked about.
      Georgia Peach & Vidalia Onion Hot Sauce. Its just a little warm, has a good flavor, and goes really good on just about anything. And buying a bottle or two won't cause your checkbook twenty minutes of agony either!

Links will open in new window:
Peppers Website

The famous Tabasco sauce site.

[NOTE: Tabasco is owned by and a registered trademark of McIlhenny Company, Avery Island, LA. The Peppers store and is owned and operated by the Hearn's and their partners. Neither is affiliated in any way with the Desk. Other than perhaps sharing a strong love of food that's not dull. No infringement or disparagement is intended.
  Thank You, Webmaster ]

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