Hot sauce is a strange beast. Most people see it as just a condiment, a simple way to liven up food; dive deeper, though, and you enter a world of web forums, conventions, and stores devoted to the stuff. What makes hot sauce such a cult item? Some sauces are certainly a sort of physical challenge, a badge of pride that says “I can eat spicier things than you and therefore I’m more of a man”. We’ll leave those — the sauces and the people — alone. For us, it’s all about exploring the different varieties and knowing that no matter how bad our food is, we can make it better with a few flicks of the wrist.
But a cursory glance at these gourmet sauces reveals a rather grizzly truth. For reasons unknown, hot sauce marketing tactics are a pretty crass affair, with boundless ass jokes at every turn. Gear Patrol is (mostly) a classy organization, and we know our readers don’t go in for this bush-league humor. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of sauces that light a fire under all our specifications: they have to taste good, look good on the table, and lastly, not offend any minorities or people who voted blue in the past ten years (this narrows the search considerably). Grab your antacids and dive in.