The Untold Truth Of Cholula Hot Sauce

Cholula Hot Sauce is, according to Instacart's latest data, the second-most popular hot sauce in America, although this is a bit of a come-down from it's prior year ranking as number one. Still, this not-too-hot sauce (it comes in at 1,000 Scoville units) has done pretty well for itself if you consider the fact that it's only been available in the U.S. since 1989.

The product itself is quite a bit older — Latin Trade (via The Free Library) says it was produced for "three generations" (so probably at least 60+ years) by a family in Chapala, Mexico, and was named after a city that Cholula's website says is 2,500 years old and is the oldest inhabited city in North America. This sauce was used by locals to make a drink called Sangrita, a mixture of tomato juice, orange juice, lime, onion, and hot sauce that makes a great chaser after drinking tequila. Naturally this caught the attention of major tequila manufacturer Jose Cuervo, so they ended up buying Cholula and this soon led to expanding its marketing north of the border to the point where this hot sauce is found in nearly every U.S. grocery store.

Cholula has had a few fails

Despite riding a massive popularity wave at present, Cholula has fallen off the metaphorical board a few times. About 20 years ago they test-marketed a picante sauce, but this product failed to catch on, as did Cholula-flavored potato chips (although, interestingly enough, Tapatio-flavored Doritos are a thing.)

A dry Cholula Seasoning was evidently quite popular in the early '00s — Amazon indicates it was available in Chili Roast Garlic as well as Original varieties. Sadly for all its many fans, Cholula's dry seasoning appears to have been pulled from the market, possibly in 2011 according to a Facebook post by Smart Kitchen. Cholula has not indicated why the product was discontinued. While those who loved it seemed to be quite fervent in their ardor, perhaps there just weren't enough people buying it to make it worthwhile to continue selling. Still, the company seems to be getting enough pushback nearly 10 years later that they have a disclaimer on their website reading: "We are sorry to say that our line of seasonings are no longer available."

Cholula is a big baseball sponsor

Cholula has sponsorships with nine different MLB teams: the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins, New York Mets, San Diego Padres, and Washington Nationals in the National League, and the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers in the American League. As part of this promotion, advertising agency Spitball indicates these teams have Cholula branding on the scoreboards and throughout the parks and even "Cholula Flamethrower"-logoed pitch speed indicators.

Of course each park also features special concession stand offerings flavored with the sponsoring sauce, including Cholula Tater Hots at Wrigley Field, Flamethrower Chicken Tenders at Citi Field, and a Cholula Chicken Sandwich at Nationals Park. Global Life Park, home to the Rangers, offers something truly unique: a club level called The Cholula Porch that features a wall where the Cholula logo is created entirely of Cholula bottle caps. Needless to say, it's every Rangers fan's favorite selfie spot. Now that's some next-level product placement.

Cholula put on a traveling taco festival

Not satisfied with a single stationary selfie spot, Cholula created Tacotopia, which was described as "an Instagrammable Amusement Park Disguised as a Pop-up Museum." It featured over 30 interactive exhibits including a mechanical taco you could ride, a lime wedge you could swing on, a disco where you could "party like a guac star," and a Jarritos Lucha Libra ring where you could channel your inner Rey Mysterio (or Jack Black in Nacho Libre). Of course, there were also tons of Instagrammable photo ops, as well as tacos, Jarritos soda, and a Cholula Hot Sauce Sample Bar (via Mommy in Los Angeles Magazine). The exhibit kicked off with a 14-week stop in Santa Monica in May of 2019 and according to License Global, was meant to make stops across the U.S., but 2020 tour dates had to be canceled.

Cholula also advertises via body art

Advertising via selfie is so 20teens. To start off the new decade, Cholula decided to branch out by putting its logo all over people's skin. A Cholula Ink event in celebration of National Hot Sauce Day on January 22 featured a partnership with NYC's Daredevil Tattoos, a tattoo parlor and museum co-owned by celebrity chef Aarón Sánchez, who is known for his work on MasterChef Junior and other cooking shows. Anyone who showed up at Daredevil's studio between the hours of noon and 10 p.m. received their choice of one of five free Cholula flash tats: a Cholula bottle, a snake-wrapped Cholula bottle, a chile pepper, a smiling bottle and pepper together, or a calavera-style depiction of the woman in the window from the Cholula label.

Cholula also sponsored a contest via Instagram that would bring non-NYC Cholula fans into the city for a free tattoo and an opportunity to meet chef Sánchez as well as a chance to win a free lifetime supply of Cholula hot sauce.