14.017 Hot Ones: The Pantry Edition

Cycle 14 – Item 17

22 (Sun) January 2023

Hot Ones: The Pantry Edition


by me

at home

-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-

with the Family

Hot Ones is a talk show on YouTube, produced by the channel First We Feast, hosted by Chris Evans.  19 seasons thus far, 278 episodes (see most recently Paul Dano Needs A Burp Cloth While Eating Spicy Wings).  Every episode features a celebrity guest who is interviewed while eating a lineup of 10 chicken wings (or a non-chicken alternative, for example, if the guest is vegan), coated in various hot sauces, each in ascending level of hotness (as measured in Scoville units).

My shortcut to fried chicken these days involves a quick toss in buchim garu, a blend of starch and seasoning, used to make jeon.
Even with a single deep-fry, the wings turn out crispy and golden.

IZ and I are huge fans.

The show delivers big on 3 fronts : i) intellectual: the interview questions are extremely well-researched, resulting in deep-cut questions that delve not only into the guest’s professional career, but more often into their personal interests and early histories (many guests conclude the episode by proclaiming that it was the best interview ever); ii) emotional: the shared pain of the hot wings creates a bonding experience between the host and guest, eliciting frank responses to questions (in most cases, the guest will break down at some point and let loose); iii) physical: the guest’s approach to eating the wings, as well as their reactions, are supremely fun to watch (whether they eat the entire wing, or just nibble; whether they drink water/milk; how much they sweat).  One of my favorite episodes features Paul Rudd, who is surprisingly good with the heat (see Paul Rudd Does a Historic Dab While Eating Spicy Wings).

I don’t have enough bowls to do a full array at one time.

For the inaugural home edition, I started with staple hot sauces that I always have on hand.  And rather than a full array of 10 sauces, I did a half-version with 5.  The wings (drumettes only, because that’s all our supermarket sells) were deep-fried in multiple batches; for each hot sauce, 3 tablespoons were poured into a bowl, into which 4 wings were placed, then covered with another bowl and tossed until the wings were fully coated in the sauce.

Whereas the actual show now features an array of specialty hot sauces, including some developed/sold by the production company, the first few seasons of the show used products broadly available on the mass market, such as Tabasco, Sriracha, and Cholulu,

Did you know: the Scoville scale (aka Scoville organoleptic test), developed by American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville in 1912, quantifies the relative heat of chili peppers.  Taking a given chili pepper, the capsaicinoids that provide the heat are extracted, then sampled by a panel of tasters over multiple rounds, diluted in increasing amounts of sugar water, until the heat is no longer discernible.  The more dilution required, the more Scoville heat units, the hotter the chili pepper.  A bell pepper has a Scoville rating of 0, jalapeño pepper is about 2,500 units, while the famed Carolina Reaper is 1,500,000+ units.  The obvious flaw in the process is that the results depend on the subjective judgments of the tasters. 

It was fun.  As none of the hot sauces were perceived as being particularly hot by any of us, the pain element was regrettably absent.  And though Hot Ones isn’t about rating the sauces in terms of taste, we all agreed that Tabasco was the best – best balance of heat + tang  + sweetness.  I look forward to future iterations with a different lineup of hot sauces.

On the show, an optional tradition is to add an extra dollop of the hot sauce on the final wing: i.e., “The Last Dab.”


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