Not too long ago (in the scheme of things), when I was but a wee lad, there were only two hot sauces available in my area: Tabasco and Crystal. An upstart burst on the scene and refused to leave: Louisiana. Being a hot sauce fan, I was happy to have some variety and alternated between the three choices for many years.
Now the market is saturated with hundreds (possibly thousands) of hot sauce brands. With so many choices available, sauce makers had to figure out a way to catch the consumer's eye. And nothing does that better than flashy (or bizarre) artwork coupled with a unique name for the product.
And it works. I know because, as a hot sauce fanatic, I have purchased some of these just because of how crazy the label is. If you're anything like me, then you'll have seen (and sampled) a few of these. But I found myself amazed at how many choices are out there-and just how creative the marketing strategies are. Here are a few examples; we're gonna start off rather tame, then get into dangerous territory...
Is this manufactured in California? And if so, is there a special medicinal ingredient involved?
It's nothing new to see a movie star on the label of a product. Just look at the bevy of Newman's Own products out there. The artwork on Cheech Hot Sauce, by Alan Aldridge, captures not only the spirit of the actor, but also the fun that foodies (like me) have with hot sauce.
Insane Hot Sauce Label #2: Pain is Good
I've had this--and pain IS good!
I purchased this Pain is Good sauce for my Dad based solely on the label. And it lives up to its name. This stuff is fire in a bottle-but with great flavor. And the cleverness of the label doesn't just end with the bottle. The T-shirts are great as well.
How can you resist trying a hot sauce that is marketed with a rubber brain on the lid? Couple that with some crazy artwork of a guy having a mental breakdown and it's nigh on irresistible!
Watch out! That little guy (girl?) is armed and dangerous!
I find it rather disturbing that I can't figure out the gender of the little angry person dangling from the bottle of Don't Piss Me Off Sauce. I suspect it's a little guy, because when immersed in water it turns into a squirt gun. And we all know where the barrel would be...
As I scoured through the plethora of hot sauces available, I began to notice a trend. Either oblique or direct references to the human posterior were extremely prevalent.
Insane Hot Sauce Label #5: Whoop Ass
It looks kind of like a tiny "Whack-a-Mole" game...
According to the media copy, these cowboys "have claimed stake to the local towns saloon and they're packin' heat. Watch yourself, pardner." Look at the cross-demographic elements used in this packaging. It appeals to cowboys, fans of western films, NASCAR fans, people who regularly attend Monster Truck rallies, etc. I love the marketing for his product. The bottles of Whoop Ass sort'a look like little Lego guys-filled with delicious heat.
Insane Hot Sauce Label #6: Ass Blaster
If this stuff lives up to its name, I'll need something larger than that box...
This bottle of Ass Blast comes in a little box shaped like an outhouse. I suspect that if you indulge in too much of this, you'll end out with a-
Insane Hot Sauce Label #7: Wet Fart
At least the logo shows a bird pooping on a person--and not the other way around.
From a marketing perspective, I'm not sure that this Wet Fart is such a good idea. Deep down we all know that there is a likely hood for this to happen if we enjoy too much hot sauce. But to broadcast this from the start may curb your sales a bit.
It's safe to say that baboons are very dangerous animals. What a baboon with a rabid ass would be like frightens me...
Insane Hot Sauce Label #9: Area 51
I hope the aliens get paid above minimum wage...
Oh, don't fear. I've not veered away from the "ass" concept of hot sauce marketing. It would be quite funny if, after all of these years of mystery, Area 51 was actually a government hot sauce factory run by aliens.
If so, then one of the side projects that the aliens spend time on (without the knowledge of the government) could be the-
Insane Hot Sauce Label #10: Alien Anal Probe
Tell me this stuff doesn't look painful. I dare ya. I'm even scared to try it-and I'll eat anything once.
These examples represent a tiny fraction of the hot sauces out there. With a prolific number of these liquid fireballs flooding the market each year, its safe to say that we'll continue seeing a wide-range of insane marketing designs popping up for quite some time. It shows that even in a saturated market, creativity can turn a small product into quite a popular sensation. (Sadly, this is no longer available.)
And I'm happy about that.
Fire breather photo by Vu Nguyen Photography
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