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Hot Sauce Design 1: Death and Rectal Malfunction

Updated: Apr 15

A leading marketing strategy of hot sauce companies is reminding the consumer that their sauce might cause painful diarrhoea. Wiltshire Chilli Company have their ‘Ring Stinger’ and ‘Must Affa Shatta’. The Sauce Crafters company have ‘Anal Angst’, ‘Colon Cleaner’, ‘Flamin Flatulence’, ‘Sphincter Shrinker’ and ‘Yeranus Berns’. Ass Kickin have a sauce called ‘Ass Blaster’, which comes in packaging shaped like an outhouse, while Bunster’s have ‘Shit the Bed’. In celebrity hot sauces, Steve-O has given his name to a range that includes ‘Hot Sauce for your Butthole’ and ‘Butthole Destroyer’, the bottles featuring a cartoon of the Jackass star naked with a bottle of sauce up his ass (something he did live during a Christmas special of Youtube’s Hot Ones). Probably the most famous hot sauce and superhot chilli producer in the United States is named Puckerbutt.

I had expected all of these sauces would be superhot, appealing to the fanatical subgroup of hot sauce lovers who enjoy something like the machismo of showing that they can take the pain of eating superhot sauces, but not all of these are very hot at all. The companies just believe that promising to ruin someone’s anus is attractive.


Another threat that companies believe will appeal to their audience is the promise of death.

All of Blair’s hot sauce range are called ‘Death’ sauces - ‘Sudden Death’, ‘Mega Death’, ‘After Death’, etc. - and they have skulls on their labels. Skulls and skeletons are a popular trope here. I’ve already reviewed Pip’s ‘Black Mass’ and Tubby Tom’s ‘Squealer’, both of which feature skulls on their bottles, as do High River’s ‘Hellacious’, Elijah’s Xtreme’s ‘Regret’, and Karma’s ‘Ashes 2 Ashes’. Canada’s Pepper North company uses a skull and skeleton hands for their ‘Stargazer’, while ‘Hell Unleashed’ has a flaming skull and the main logo of Scotland’s Bonnie Sauce Co. is a stylised skull. Hotter than El have their ‘Love Burns’, with a skeleton’s hand holding an anatomical heart, as well as their ‘Ghost Sauce’, which has the Grim Reaper for its logo.


The Reaper is a popular figure here, and for two reasons. Not only is there the established threat-of-death aesthetic going on but there’s also the superhot pepper - the famous Carolina Reaper - which it references, this once having been the Guinness Book of World Records’ official hottest chilli variety.

So we see the figure of Death on Seafire’s ‘Reaper Hot Sauce’, Torchbearer’s ‘Garlic Reaper’, Hellfire’s ‘Fear This’, Sauce Leopard’s ‘Seventh Reaper’ and South Devon’s ‘Reaper’. There’s even a brand named Grim Reaper, making sauces named ‘Slasher’, ‘Evil One’ and ‘The Ripper’, bringing ways of being murdered into the mix. That kind of ‘deranged killer’ angle is continued with sauces like Dr Burnorium’s ‘Psycho Juice’ and Dingo’s ‘Psycho Hot Sauce’. Insanity is promised by further brands, including the Crazy Bastard range, Da Bomb’s ‘Beyond Insanity’, and Dave’s Gourmet’s ‘Ultimate Insanity’.


Your anus will be ruined and you will die, unless you become a psychotic killer. I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that these brand promises might not appeal to all consumers.

There are other connections at play here. Hot sauces frequently share Heavy Metal and biker aesthetics - sometimes in the typography, often in satanic iconography and references to death. The Hellfire range expresses this well, with their skulls, reapers, devil pigs, satanic clowns and zombies (they even have a sauce called ‘Zombie Snot’), and their staff photos on the website are long-haired folk in Wornstar clothing with skulls and Maltese crosses. Hot Headz have ‘Hell Unleashed’ and ‘Satan’s Revenge’, while Sauce Crafters include devils, black dogs, scorpions and spiders.


I get the evil and heat connections for the superhot sauces. The bottles promise threat and menace and the consumer of such sauces is showing how dangerous they themselves are. Get it. That’s what the branding wants. But the aesthetic has overspilled into all hot sauces, regardless of their heat. This feels like a mistake. I don’t see the point in attaching threats of violence, insanity, eternal damnation or diarrhoea to a sweet dipping sauce. Looking along a row of sauces in a specialist shop or online, I find my eyes skimming over those products. I don’t even register them, I realise. I find these kinds of images cliched and essentially childish.

Clearly that’s baggage I bring to the branding, but my point is that you have sauces that should appeal to everyone and putting a bloated satanic pig-person with distended fangs wearing a studded collar and biker vest you are perhaps not appealing to as broad an audience as the product deserves. That specific sauce I’m looking at is Hellfire’s ‘Pineapple Fatalli’. It is a mild and gentle sauce full of fruit - pineapple, papaya, apricot - and loads of great-sounding ingredients, but I’m only looking at it at all because I’m writing this post. The design promises something completely different from the product.


There are other aesthetics and cultures in this hot sauce world and I’m going to look at some others in future posts, including regional variations. For instance, the aesthetics in the US often differ from the UK, and I’m noticing something specific about Cornish hot sauce companies too.


[Images are taken from product websites.]

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