The untold truth of Hot Ones

So, you think you're a boss of the sauce? Not just any sauce, of course, but the hottest known to mankind. Do you think you have what it takes to tackle 10 wings doused in an increasingly fiery glaze only Lucifer himself could concoct?

Well, if you happen to accept an invite to Hot Ones, prepare yourself for an inferno of tantalizing tingles and a barrage of questions that makes police interrogators green with envy. Welcome to Hell, my friend. Pull up a seat, and calm your nerves. There's no preparing for the palatial battle about to ensue.

Of course, most people won't ever find themselves sitting across from host Sean Evans while munching down wings and answering a series of intimate questions. Luckily for you, the opportunity to watch someone torture their tongue is always available on the Hot Ones YouTube channel. Do yourself a favor and check it out. But, be warned: If you can't take the heat, there's no spot for you in the kitchen. 

Like every popular show, there are plenty of behind-the-scenes secrets viewers aren't privy to. But, lucky for you, we're dishin' up the untold truth you won't find anywhere else. Bon appétit!

The hottest featured sauces are no joke

Sure, you might dabble in Sriracha or douse a meal in Tabasco from time to time, but the category you fall into is "bush league." Have you ever heard of ghost peppers? No? Well, if reading the word "ghost" caused a spooky shiver to climb your spine, that feeling's warranted.

The Scoville scale measures the pungency of chili peppers and other sweat-inducing cuisine. The more droplets of sweat falling off foreheads means more Scoville heat units, and the sauces on Hot Ones reach the top of the scale. Jalapeños, for example, register anywhere between 2,500 and 10,000 Scoville units. While that sounds like plenty, they don't even scratch the surface of what exists, and hot sauce connoisseurs will admit even they cower in the face of certain brands. Take the Carolina Reaper. It breaches the 2 million Scoville unit mark, and as the show's guests make their way through the 10 increasingly spicy wings, they're introduced to the Reaper at some point.

Hot Ones even has their own line of sauces, aptly named the Hot Ones hot sauces. Some are sweet and mild, but others are brutal mixtures of chipotle peppers, ghost peppers, habanero peppers, and anything else Hell cooks up. The very final mouth burn on wing number 10 comes courtesy of Hot Ones The Last Dab Reduxx, which contains Pepper X, the world's hottest (as of February 2019) at over 3 million Scoville units. Yowza.

Its host conquered a Carolina Reaper

Hot Ones couldn't just stick any ordinary Joe in the hosting seat and keep their fingers crossed they could handle the ensuing heat. No, they needed someone who could prove their worth, and Sean Evans performed. But, proving yourself at a place like Hot Ones means experiencing far more pain than pleasure.

How exactly does one go about embodying the cream that rises to the top? Well, confronting a Carolina Reaper head on is one sure-fire way, and Evans stepped into that Thunderdome battle and left with a victory under his belt. But, that capital "V" didn't come without battle scars.

Evans documented the firefight alongside Claus Pilgaard, a Danish entertainer known as Chili Klaus, and that dude loves spice. In fact, Evans describes him as "the Michael Jordan of hot chilis." So, he brought Chili Klaus along for a Carolina Reaper-eating extravaganza at Jimmy's No. 43 in New York City's East Village to stare the spice equivalent of death straight in the eyes.

Within seconds of swallowing the peppers, both are covered in sweat, hiccuping uncontrollably, and looking as if they want to curl up into the fetal position. They sip beer to alleviate the burn (which doesn't really work) and try desperately to think themselves into a frosty mindset (which, also, doesn't really work).

In the end, however, they come out on top, and Evans, deservedly, now sits atop the throne of Hot Ones with a chili-encrusted crown upon his head.

Sean Evans, surprisingly, was never a hot sauce guy

Naturally, the host of a show all about hot sauce would have grown up obsessed with the stuff, jonesing for it like an addict, right? Shockingly, no. Evans wasn't even that much of a wing guy, either. He, like the rest of the Hot Ones crew, thought celebrity interviews had a tendency to quickly turn into a snoozefest, and hot sauce was the antidote that changed everything.

Now that Evans has attained his status as the hot wings guy, just like every other public figure, he faces a lot of frustrating interaction with the public. Not only do most fans assume he loves eating wings all the time, but many insist on treating him to a plate of them — an act of generosity Evans, frankly, prefers living without. The truth is, when he's not watching celebs endure spicy meltdowns, he stays away from not just hot wings, but overly spicy food in general. He even has a decidedly mild signature sandwich proving it.

To make a Sean Evans sandwich, get your hands on a kaiser roll, corned beef, melted Raclette cheese, and coleslaw. Pile that roll high with corned beef, scrape the melted cheese onto the meat, and add a scoop of slaw on top. But wait — the masterpiece isn't finished yet. Add just a dash on Los Calientes hot sauce (Evans had to add it somewhere), and slather the roll with mayonnaise before capping the whole thing. Boom.

You better believe there's no easy way to eat the wings

When faced with a near-impossible task, human nature tells us to find the easiest approach. Many times, some kind of shortcut or wiggle room presents itself, allowing for an easier experience. Unfortunately, for Evans' guests, Hot Ones is well aware of this urge, so they make sure the word "easy" doesn't exist in the show's vocabulary.

When dressing the wings, 20 plastic bowls are filled with the sauces (10 for Evans and 10 for the guest). Each wing takes a full-force bath in its sauce, ensuring every millimeter of meat wears it proudly. Plus, the last wing always receives an extra dash, known intimidatingly as "The Last Dab." Staring anxiously at each wing, the natural tendency is to seek out an area less coated than the rest, but after a few seconds of inspection, the truth hits: There's no hope, plain and simple.

Evans also admits the crew ignores blatant warnings on the bottles such as, "Just one drop!" or "Dilute with water." Those who dare to dabble better just put their adult pants on and leap off the cliff. At the bottom of that cliff lies either spice-laden pride or the Reaper waiting to claim its next victim.

Machine Gun Kelly's reaction was a sign the crew caught lightning in a bottle

It's hard to know if a show's concept will work until a team breathes life into it. Countless examples of failed projects exist, proving hours of hard work, sleepless nights, and big dreams don't always equal success. When Hot Ones gambled on the idea of burning up celebrity mouths while answering questions, they had no clue if they were onto something special or joining the ranks of the failed. That is, until rapper Machine Gun Kelly took the hot seat.

Evans was still new to the Hot Ones experience when the rapper accepted the invite to sit down and chat. The interview flowed smoothly for a while, but at one point, Kelly completely lost his composure, and Evans instantly knew Hot Ones had something special sitting in its lap. Kelly paced around while screaming, sweating profusely, and spitting into garbage cans as Evans grinned with excitement. Hot Ones arrived with a bang, and it was here to stay.

In a world inundated with boring cookie-cutter celebrity interviews, this is good television.

This guest scored some serious YouTube views

In order to snag as many YouTube views as possible, users must upload content people crave. Adorable animals doing hilarious things proves one way to amass attention. Anything having to do with cooking and kitchen tips also seems to garner plenty of traction nowadays. But, there's another key component that's bringing numbers up into the millions: Kevin Hart.

Hart's popularity exploded over the last few years, so Hot Ones pounced on the opportunity to sit down with the Hollywood heavy-hitter and watch him take on the infamous Hot Ones challenge. To say the YouTube views quickly racked up is a gross understatement, and Hot Ones has over 20 million ways to prove it (as of April 2019).

That's right, over 20 million people (a number only beaten by Gordon Ramsay's episode) tuned in at some point to watch the comedian (sporting some dope shades) struggle through all 10 meaty morsels of mayhem. He made it, but not without a whole lot of laughter, winces, sniffles, and, of course, milk. By the end, the intensity even forced Hart to admit he felt "drunk." It's nice to know a guy who seems to conquer everything thrown at him is human just like the rest of us.

Gordon Ramsay actually praised one of the sauces

Inviting Gordon Ramsay onto a show highlighting food naturally causes anxiety in everyone involved. Onboarding a man known for completely eviscerating the quality of meals he eats likely spells trouble, but Hot Ones knew they needed to sit down with the sultan of slurs to test his tolerance.

Running a successful kitchen, like Ramsay does, involves meticulous preparation, and boy, he arrives prepared. While most guests settle for the water and milk provided, Ramsay brings doughnuts, lemon and lime juice, and antacid. He's ready to rumble.

Of course, going an entire episode without some kind insult just isn't Ramsay's style. At one point, he claims the wings are "getting f***ing smaller and smaller," and one even "looks like my grandad's f***ing big toe." But, he puts his disdain aside for one sauce in particular: the Hot Ones Los Calientes sauce. About 10 minutes into the interview, he actually praises the sauce, saying, "That's quite nice. I like that. It's quite zesty."

Well done, Hot Ones. You pleased the unpleasable.

This guest sought medical help after the interview

Sometimes all the milk, bread, and calculated breaths in the world just aren't enough to stop the solar plumes erupting in guests' mouths. Although a trip to the emergency room is always a last resort, when push comes to shove, the help of a professional hospital staff certainly brings about a proper peace of mind. Just ask Chrissy Teigen.

A self-proclaimed "hot wing freak," Teigen confidently spoke with Evans, fully aware of the spice mountain she needed to traverse. She handled the interview like a champion, answering his questions with her Teigen-like enthusiasm, until she reached Da Bomb. She toughed it out, but the next day found herself sitting in her throat doctor's office with an overly chaffed tongue and uncontrollable twitches in both her eyebrows. She credits the disaster to over-indulging on way too many salty Ruffles chips the night before, which left her tongue "raw." Combine a raw tongue with the hot sauce, and yikes.

Like any celebrity with a huge social media following, she took to Twitter to share her woes. She admitted to needing a two-week dose of CBD pills to end her eyebrow twitches, which she attributed to Da Bomb hot sauce.

John Legend, you sure know how to pick 'em.

This late-night host brought Hot Ones to him

One solidifying mark of making it big is an invite to a popular late-night talk show. It's easy to imagine that Evans never thought an idea like Hot Ones would land him sitting across from an A-list celebrity host sharing the wings from the show, but Stephen Colbert welcomed him with open arms — and nerves of steel.

Due to the show's time constraints, Evans and Colbert only take on four wings, but they're a fearsome four. Just like every Hot Ones show, each wing comes fully sauced, and Colbert dives in headfirst. He takes on the first two relatively easy but knows discomfort awaits his future.

Da Bomb Beyond Insanity, the third wing, instantly alerts Colbert to the sheer madness of Hot Ones. The milk swigs and sweating begin, and Evans smiles joyously at the host's reaction. But, like the late-night king he is, Colbert grabs the bottle of Blair's Mega Death Sauce with Liquid Rage, adds that ulcer-inducing final dab onto wing number four, and he shovels it into his mouth like a boss. His frantic pacing around the studio afterwards gives viewers an idea of the hell he's experiencing.

Evans probably shouldn't expect an invite back anytime soon.

Did the heat cause this guest to spoil the final Avengers film?

When a big-budget film is in the works, the actors involved are sworn to secrecy. Studios can't risk spoiling huge plot points for the sake of the viewers' experience, and they take those nondisclosure agreements very seriously. So, when Scarlett Johansson appeared on Hot Ones, Evans jumped at the chance to grill the Avengers: Endgame star about the blockbuster film while her guard was down.

Few franchises have dedicated fans drooling over release dates like Marvel. Evans knows that, and he puts Johansson through an intense bout of questioning in hopes that she shatters her nondisclosure agreement into a million pieces — and she very well may have.

Fully aware of the spoilers he's trying to drag out, Evans warns Johansson not to verbally answer any questions. He wants viewers to analyze her pained facial expressions to see if she gives insight to the film's secrets. Will Captain America perish? Will Thanos fall victim to Ant-Man's tricks to trap him in the Quantum Realm? Is Loki actually alive? Whew, these are heavy.

Although Johansson nods her head in agreement throughout the questions, one can only assume she's simply trying to stifle the pain. Such a seasoned actor would never break a strict nondisclosure contract, right?

This guest couldn't make it to the finish line

Just because the desire to plow through all 10 wings burns in each guest, not all have what it takes, and some find themselves holding a not-so-coveted spot in the Hot Ones Hall of Shame. DJ Khaled, comedian Mike Epps, rapper Yayo, and several others forever hang in the metaphorical Hall, but there's another who might surprise you...

After the eighth and Mad Dog 357-doused wing, comedian Jim Gaffigan threw in the towel. You might think, "Why? He only had two to go," but alas, it was two too many. This, coming from a guy who builds many of his comedy routines on his love of food, was a shocker.

Evans, feeling an obligation to continue eating while asking the last few questions, endured the last two. Surprisingly, Gaffigan wasn't choking down milk and wiping sweat from his face like one might expect from a person who admits defeat from a Scoville onslaught. However, he made it as far as his body allowed, and he still left with his dignity intact (well, hopefully).

Some guests opt for vegan wings instead

In a culinary world constantly striving to cater to those with allergies and dietary restrictions, a massive push to create "meatless" meat grows larger every day. Once upon a time, eating a burger consisting entirely of vegetables and grains sounded unappealing to even a strict herbivore. But, when the brightest minds in the world take to the kitchen, vegetarian and vegan options are now far more palatable.

Not a show to turn away anyone willing to take on the treacherous 10, when a celebrity with dietary requests roll through, Hot Ones accommodates. For example, Natalie Portman sat down with Evans to promote a new film discussing the alarming state of America's factory farming, and no way in hell would the vegan eat plump wings of meat. So, Hot Ones happily provided her vegan wings (in the end, it's all about the sauce, not the wings). They did the same thing for Russell Brand and Ricky Gervais, as well. And Evans, although clearly a meat connoisseur, sacrificed his love of animal and ate the vegan wings with them. What a guy.

Its creator knows how to eat like a boss

Sean Evans might host Hot Ones, but the brainchild behind First We Feast, the millennial-targeted platform from Complex Networks that includes Hot Ones, is Chris Schonberger, and there's a reason he mans the ship. Some people merely eat to live, but one look at how he spoils his appetite speaks volumes about his life's dedication to quality cuisine. And oh, what a grand life he leads.

In an interview with Grub Street, Schonberger lays out what a week of dining looks like. During the particular week he details, he indulges in a hefty portion of cream-sauced farfalle pasta complete with ham and peas for lunch, followed by a Tex-Mex dinner with the First We Feast team. Not a bad way to start.

Over the course of the week, he enjoys a meal from Made Nice (a spot from the same people who brought New York City the Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park), an incredible seafood meal consisting of fresh lobster and mussels during a brief visit to Maine, and then gobbles up curried lamb chops upon his return to the Big Apple. Jealous much?

He rounds out his week eating "the best soup dumplings north of Chinatown" at Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen for his afternoon munchies, and then finishes off the entire adventure (only to start a new one the very next day) with orecchiette pasta with sausage and kale.

You crave the life of Chris Schonberger.