Hot Ones has attracted a surprisingly large number of celebrities as guests, listers all the way from A to F, and has made Evans a well-known dude in his own right. But not because of his talent for downing hellaciously spicy wings; people know Evans because he’s a sympathetic and consistently surprising interviewer slightly more Terry Gross than Nardwuar The Human Serviette. Which is to say he’s done (exhaustive) research on who’s across the table from him, but that he’s equally good at putting his guests at ease.
Over the course of Austin’s hour at the table, Evans coaxes the big man into spicier and spicier wings; Austin gets all the way to the end of the challenge, and yes, he does dab. (More on that later.) A couple weeks later, when the episode hits YouTube, I notice the final product isn’t much different than what I’d seen by the milk. It’s a polished interview, sure. But Evans manages to turn his larger-than-life hero Stone Cold Steve Austin — aka The Texas Rattlesnake, aka Stone Cold The Bionic Redneck, aka “Stunning” Steve Austin — into Steven Anderson, a human man. It’s the reason Hot Ones has become one of the most popular video series on the internet. Which, these days, might also make it the future of late-night television.
Hot Ones remains the best thing to watch when you’re not sure what you feel like watching; it rewards passive consumption just as much as it rewards active love. “I know what it’s like to be in your apartment kind of bored, smoking weed, looking for something to watch,” he says. “And I guess I’ve always wanted to fill that void.” Which is the hole late-night television plugs — when you’re up at an odd hour on a weeknight and everything fun is closed, a good variety show can fill that restless gap in your heart, or your schedule. It’s something to consume because it’s there, and it’s better than whatever else you might otherwise be doing. That’s the nature of web video, too, and one of the reasons YouTube exists: when there’s nothing left to do, you have to set your browser to autoplay. Millions of people do this, enough that it’s made the public care about an interview show that’s not Terry Gross’, which is a hard thing to do. It is the future. It is for you. It is on, right now, if you want it.
And that’s part of the genius of Hot Ones: it’s for you, but it’s also for everyone. You can leave it playing in the background and feel nourished after three hours. At least Evans thinks so. He says the highest compliment anyone can pay him is when a parent says the show bridges a generational divide — when they say they can watch it with their kids. “I remember me and my brother would watch Beavis and ButtheadorSouth Park, but we’d be all secret about it because we didn’t want our dad to know,” he says. “And then before I know it, I’m in fourth grade, and me, my brother, and my dad are watching South Park together.” The idea that it’s not necessarily kid-friendly, but good enough to show to kids anyway is something Evans treasures. That’s a remarkable achievement for any show, let alone one that’s only been around for four years and airs only on YouTube and Facebook.
All the Hot Ones Hot Sauces (Based on Scoville Heat Units)
In Hot Ones, a YouTube series under the account name First We Feast, host Sean Evans sits down with a different celebrity guest in each episode, talking with them about their lives and careers. The catch: as they talk, they eat chicken wings, starting with a slightly tangy sauce and working their way up to the kind of hot sauce that could turn you into a fire-breathing dragon. If the celebrity makes it all the way to the tenth and final sauce, they can promote an upcoming project at the end of the episode.
In season 3, the starter hot sauce was a basic sriracha, which is 2,200 Scovilles, a scale that measures the spiciness of peppers or spicy foods. That was followed by Tabasco Original at 2,500 Scovilles. And the final sauce was Blair’s Mega Death at 550,000 Scovilles. But things have been progressing rapidly on the spicy scale, and the show now produces its own branded sauces as well.
Hot Ones The Classic –1,800 Scovilles
As the new “number-one” sauce from the series, meaning the first sauce to start off the conversation and heat scale, it uses the Chile de Arbol pepper, which promises complex and fresh flavors.
Grown by Smokin’ Ed Currie from Puckerbutt Pepper Co., it can be used liberally on wings or whatever dish you like, offering more of a tang than a bold hit of hotness. In addition to the pepper, it includes some apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, water, garlic, turmeric, and salt, and uses mainly organic ingredients.
Sauce Bae Skinny Habanero – 2,500 Scovilles
All-natural, this sauce has a tropical pineapple taste, which will add a nice zing to your wings or other foods. It also contains white vinegar, onion, garlic, turmeric, salt, cumin, black pepper, and ginger. The real heat, however, comes from, as the name implies, habaneros as well as jalapenos.
While it’s sweeter than other hot sauces, some fans will especially love that its low sodium and gluten-free. It’s also an option, particularly daring individuals, to use as a tangy salad dressing with a kick.
Shaquanda’s Hot Pepper – 10,100 Scovilles
Representing a massive jump in Scovilles from the level 2 sauce, this one, the third in the line-up on the latest season, combines scotch bonnet with habanero peppers to provide an island flare inspired by Barbados flavors through ingredients like ginger, turmeric, mustard, and lemon.
Ideal for marinades for chicken and fish as well, or for spicing up your lunch sandwich, it adds more spice through chili peppers and horseradish, as well as some sweetness via demerara sugar.
Lucky Dog Year Of The Dog Thai Chile Pineapple – 29,800 Scovilles
Don’t let the promise of sweet pineapple fool you: this sauce, from the San Francisco Bay company, is hot, hot, hot. Combining pineapple with a host of other ingredients including honey and lime juice, it’s the dried red chilies that really spice this sauce up.
You’ll also get tastes of earthiness thanks to toasted onion and sesame seeds. But combine the heat with the sour lime, pungent mustard, and sweet pineapple, and it will be a burst of flavors in your mouth.
Hot Ones Los Calientes – 36,000 Scovilles
By the time the celebrity guests get to this sauce, they’re either crying, blowing their noses excessively, guzzling milk, or all of the above. A select few, however, might be just fine. This sauce, a slight jump up from the last, combines Californian and Mexican flavors through green serrano and orange habanero chiles, along with tomatillo, which adds some tartness.
Good for wings as well as tacos and pizza, other ingredients that boost the flavor profile include agave nectar, toasted onion, cilantro, and apricot.
Hell Fire Detroit Habanero – 100,000-300,000 Scovilles
If the last sauce didn’t get them, this one surely will. With at least almost three times as much heat as Los Calientes, you can almost see the pure fire coming your way given the thickness of the sauce.
The ingredients are simple, including fire-roasted habanero, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, distilled water, and olive oil. It’s fruity and tangy, but don’t let the seemingly harmless ingredients list beyond the pepper fool you - this one will clear your sinuses right up!
Wiltshire Chili Farm Trinidad Scorpion – 104,000 Scovilles
Perhaps designed to give celebrity guests a little break, this one doesn’t offer a huge jump from the previous one or might even be less spicy. The dark red-colored hot sauce uses a small selection of ingredients to light up your senses. At the heart of it is scorpion chile and red peppers, along with salt, sugar, and cider vinegar.
It’s a good complement to pasta sauces, to dip French fries or nachos, or dot onto fried chicken for a nice kick of heat and flavor.
DaBomb Beyond Insanity – 135,600 Scovilles
The name says it all here, as does the warning label: consume one drop at a time with extreme caution. It’s made with pure habanero pepper, further enhanced with, well, more habanero-infused flavor. It also includes chipotles (as if the habaneros weren’t hot enough) along with orange juice, water, tomato paste, and other spices. In other words, dab this on food, don’t pour it or drench your wing in it.
Have a tall glass of milk and a box of Kleenex nearby before deciding to try this one! This is usually the one that takes down even the most adventurous celebrity guests.
Puckerbutt Chocolate Plague – 690,000 Scovilles
Do you really need more of a description here than just the name? Even the image on the bottle is scary enough to make even the most adventurous of hot sauce aficionados cringe in horror at what's to come.
With almost six times the heat of the already mouth-burning Da Bomb, it is made from 90% pure Chocolate Bhutlah, which is rumored to be some of the world’s hottest peppers. A cross between the bhut jolokia (more commonly known as the ghost pepper) and chocolate douglah, taking a bite of something with this sauce is like setting off fireworks in your mouth.
Promising to offer delicious flavor as well, if you’re brave enough, add some to a marinade or drip a few drops into a stew if wings aren’t your thing.
Hot Ones The Last Dab Reduxx – 2,000,000+ Scovilles
The latest version of the final hot sauce for the series, for the few celebrities who make it all the way down the list, this one is a doozy. Containing Ed Currie’s “Pepper X” along with “Chocolate Pepper X,” it’s named as such because one dab is enough to send you running to the bathroom or screaming in agony.
If you’re a glutton for spicy punishment, you can buy it from the Heatonist website (as with all of the other ones), but it’s limited to one bottle per person. And probably for good reason.
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