We Tried Hooters Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce. Here's How It Went

Hooters, long a restaurant people have visited for everything but its food, has finally entered the realm of extreme eating. This month, Hooters across America unleashed a new Ghost Pepper Hot sauce, claiming to be 15 times hotter than any sauce on the menu, 45 times hotter than traditional hot sauces, and clocking in at a staggering 15,500 Scottsville Heat Units, according to FSR magazine. Lest you think Scottsville Unites are like the heat equivalent of Turkish Lira, a typical jalapeno only has about 2,500, via this helpful infographic from Forbes.

So in addition to giving the men of America yet another way to foolishly try and impress their Hooters waitress, the hot wing heavyweights have added a sauce to the menu for serious heat heads. But is it really as hardcore as Hooters is saying? Or is it yet another big-talking marketing ploy to get us all to order giant beers? We headed out to our neighborhood Hooters, pregamed with Pepto, and asked our friendly bartender for a couple of orders. Here's how it went, and some advice for those looking to try it out.

What is Hooters Ghost Pepper Hot sauce?

Ghost peppers by themselves pack over a million Scottsville Units, one of the most extreme hot peppers on the planet. So just pureeing some up and tossing them with chicken wings would likely have ended in an unfortunate lawsuit. As such, according to the Hooters manager we talked to, each kitchen mixes a special ghost pepper sauce with the already-existing Nuclear sauce –- a spicy blend of cayenne, habanero, garlic, and other spices that was previously the hottest sauce on Hooters' menu.

Visually, it looks roughly like stuff that would come spewing out of a volcano somewhere in Hawaii. The deep red color is almost intimidating, especially when presented atop a steaming plate of wings. It's almost like looking into a live lava field with a strong peppery kick, and no matter how hot the wings are the sauce itself gets an A for appearance. By all accounts, it's not hot enough to start actually dissolving the chicken wings either, which bodes well for your esophagus.

What else comes with Hooters Ghost Pepper Hot sauce?

The original Buffalo wings, born out of a kitchen at Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York in 1964, were served with celery and bleu cheese dressing to cool the heat of the Cayenne pepper sauce. So thank Teressa Bellissimo for this little bit for foresight, because you most definitely will need some sort of cool, creamy dressing to put out the towering inferno in your mouth after trying Hooters Ghost Pepper Hot sauce. Hooters knows this, and serves the Ghost Pepper wings with either bleu cheese or ranch, and no celery. Which will immediately offend anyone from Buffalo, but no one ever accused Hooters of being wing purists.

The wings don't come with any sides either, though if you go during the day you can order an eight-piece boneless wing lunch special for $9 that comes with fries. Even if you're not up for packing more grease into this already-artery-clogging meal, the fried potatoes can come in handy for soaking up some of the hot sauce in your mouth. Or, if you're a real masochist, you can dip them in the hot sauce too.

How much does Hooters Ghost Pepper Hot sauce cost?

Prices vary by market and location, but essentially the ghost pepper sauce costs as much as any other sauce on Hooters' menu. Our six-wing order of Hooters original wings was $10.55, and naked wings were the same price. Boneless wings are a little cheaper at $8.55 per order of six, and the roasted wings are $11.10. That $11.10 price tag also applies to the smoked wings and Daytona Beach style wings, a preparation where wings are smoked over hickory chips and then fried.

If you're looking to try this stuff without committing to an entire order of wings a side of sauce is only 60 cents, a relatively small investment to see how you measure up to hot sauce tough guys. Be advised, though, these wings don't come with any sides, and eating an entire order is ... challenging to say the least. So you may be well served to order these as a novelty for the table, split the cost, and look further down the menu for your actual lunch.

How long will Hooters Ghost Pepper Hot sauce be available, and where?

Barring any lingering personal injury claims (no waiver required!), Hooters Ghost Pepper Hot sauce will be on the menu for the foreseeable future. Both the manager and server we talked to said there were no plans to pull it any time soon, and all of Hooters' press releases and other promotional materials have not used the dreaded "limited time" verbiage to describe the new sauce. So if you feel like you need to train your stomach a little bit before going for the ghost, you've got time.

Hooters did, however, use another joyfully ambiguous phrase in the world of franchised restaurants — "participating locations." So while the Ghost Pepper Hot sauce is technically available nationwide, you may want to call your nearest Hooters to see if the local franchisee is, in fact, participating. Also, because the ghost pepper sauce is so new, not all delivery apps have it as a sauce option yet, so checking that way isn't a guarantee.

How does Hooters Ghost Pepper Hot sauce stack up to other items on the menu?

Nothing on Hooters' menu, past or present, is even remotely as hot as this Ghost Pepper sauce. If Hooters split its hot sauces into leagues like soccer does, this sauce is the EPL and the next hottest sauce on the menu is a middling team in the MLS. If all you know about soccer is that you go to a bar once every four years to watch it and sing with Brazilians, just know this stuff is on a different planet heat-wise.

If you get even a little bit heated up by Hooters' Nuclear sauce, you will find this one instantly intolerable. If you usually order anything below Nuclear, don't even look at this sauce as it might literally burn your eyes. The wings themselves are, as one might expect, exactly like every other Hooters wing, since they don't order different wings for different sauces. So from a meat quality perspective, it's more or less a push. But don't go in expecting anything close to what you've had at Hooters before. Whether it's better or worse depends entirely on how much you like spicy food.

What's the nutrition info for Hooters Ghost Pepper Hot sauce?

Unlike the rest of its sauces, Hooters doesn't have published nutrition info on the Ghost Pepper Hot sauce yet. The closest thing Hooters has to published info on the nutrition of Ghost Pepper Hot sauce is for the old 911 sauce, essentially an earlier iteration of Nuclear, which is used as a base for this sauce. The 911 clocked in at 20 calories per serving, with 4 grams of carbohydrates and 1770 mg of sodium, according to Fastfoodnutrition.com.

Add that to your wing of choice, and the info varies. As per Hooters' nutrition info guide, a six-piece order of Hooters Original breaded wings has 840 calories, with 51 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 200 mg of cholesterol, and 560 mg of sodium. Naked wings, with no breading, are a little better for you, with 540 calories, 31 grams of fat, 320 mg of cholesterol, and 390 mg of sodium. Opt for boneless, and you'll be packing on 480 calories for eight pieces, with 12 grams of fat, 70 mg of cholesterol, and 210 mg of sodium.

How do Hooters Ghost Pepper Hot wings taste?

You know how sometimes you bite into something spicy, and you feel fine for a minute before it creeps up on you? That's not what happens with Hooters' Ghost Pepper Hot sauce, as upon the first bite your initial reaction is, "Wow, that's spicy." If you've got a bit of tolerance, it won't knock you over immediately. There's a flavorful, peppery tang to the sauce, so it's not like biting into battery acid. If you can handle the heat, the taste of the sauce is outstanding.

That, however, is a big "if." And if you're not made of lead eating this can be a religious experience. By about bite three, you're probably going to need a break. If you're the type who enjoys going all-in on your wings and getting sauce all over your face, this is also the point where your face starts to burn. One wing in, and you'll feel the adrenaline start rushing in the back of your head, as your eyes get wide and your heart rate increases. Talking is even difficult because the heat of your breath only makes it worse.

How do Hooters Ghost Pepper Hot boneless wings taste?

Typically, eating bone-in and boneless wings is a pretty similar experience, sauce-wise. But with the Ghost Pepper Hot sauce, which is applied with great generosity to both, they're markedly different. The boneless variety has a lot more breading, and therefore absorbs more of the intense pepper sauce than the bone-in wings. The result is an explosion of heat in your mouth on the first bite, that doesn't let up at any point.

This increased heat in your mouth is offset by less damage to your face and hands. If eating traditional wings by hand makes your fingers burn, you can opt for a fork with boneless, saving your hands from a cold tingling the rest of the afternoon.

Boneless also are a little harder to dip, since their larger shape doesn't always fit in the plastic ramekin. Again, use a fork as you'll be desperate to get something cool in your mouth by about bite three. Finishing a full order of either of these is almost impossible if you're not an experienced hot food eater. But because they have less breading and less sauce saturation, you'll probably have better luck with the bone-on.

Parting advice on eating Hooters Ghost Pepper Hot sauce

Hooters Ghost Pepper sauce is not for the faint of heart, or stomach, or any other internal organ. While they're not deadly, they're also not something an average person can just stroll in and polish off a plate of. So, with the benefit of our hindsight, here are some tips for enjoying them:

1) Have some antacids before you eat. You will literally feel the acid moving through your system for an hour or two after you eat, and it's considerably less painful when you've got a nice pink, chalky coating.

2) Order something on the side to soak up the heat. Water, beer, or soda will only spread the stuff around your mouth and make it worse. A hamburger bun and a glass of milk will do the trick.

3) Don't plan on eating an entire order. Even if you can do it, the rest of your day will be miserable. Get one order, and if you're planning on making a meal of your Hooters visit order something else too.

4) Don't touch your face or your eyes after eating with your bare hands. If you're ever chopped jalapenos, you know how pepper acid stays on your hands ever after you wash them. This stuff is no joke, and rubbing your eyes after eating the wings with your hands will be like a light macing.

5) Take some home. No reason not to have a little fun watching your roommates who always steal your food discover all this the hard way.