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The Smoking Tongue

November 11, 2005

Day 116: Panola Extra Hot

Full name: Panola Extra Hot Hot Sauce.

If this label doesn't scream 1980, I don't know what does.

Panola has a really crazy history. In 1983, they made the jump from giving away their hot sauce to family & friends, to selling it. Starting with a machine that could fill 3 bottles at a time, they started to grow during the next 3 years. While still trying to break into more restaurants and grocery shelves, they had a massive fire that burned their plant down in 1986. Half a year later they rebuilt and made a modern factory. By 2001, their 30 products were being sold internationally. But then five people broke in one night and burned the place down. Obviously, they have rebuilt sine then. But I can't imagine what insane insurance company would cover them for fire damage any more. What's next? A meteor hits earth and.... burns down the Panola factory? A Godzilla movie?

I wouldn't blame them if their new factory is made out of fireproof materials.

As far as their success goes, I just don't see it. It doesn't seem very unique to me. This sauce is just a run of a mill red vinegar sauce. Extra heat, sure, but not enough to get excited about. About the same small increase in heat as Frank's Extra Hot or Crystal's Extra Hot has.

But that wasn't the neat part!

Have you ever eaten a whole bag of salty chips? Ever eat sharp, pointy tortillas? Besides feeling like a complete pig and promising never to do that again, your mouth feels violated. Miniscule scrapes all over the inside of the mouth, and the salt digging into the fresh wounds. A thirst that no amount of water seems to quench.

Well, that's exactly what this hot sauce felt like! Exactly. It felt like my mouth went to battle with a salt mine, and lost. Most vinegar sauces have too much salt, so it's actually something special to say that this hot sauce is the saltiest of them all!

By the time I was finishing supper, I was also starting to pick up on a really bad aftertaste. Since I kept using more and more to just finish the sauce, it became even more apparent with every sopping bite. It was pungent, and probably not in the positive way they used that word on the back of their label. To their credit, I'm pretty sure this was an old bottle.

By the time I drank this shot, I was all Panola'd out. The nasty aftertaste I had started to notice during supper was completely evident here. With a small gag reflex, it was finally over. My mouth feels like hell, and my blood pressure is definitely up.Bottoms Up!

I did find a new use for this hot sauce. This winter, when the roads are at their iciest, just have a Panola salt truck come by and melt a new path for you. Hang your head out the window to catch some in your mouth! Good luck this winter!


Tomorrow: Dragon Sauce

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