Hello again, my fellow freaks.
Today, we’re going to take a look at another trio of american imports. The new range from rock legend and fellow madman, Alice Cooper:
Though their actual manufacturer turns out to be one of our previous features. The well-known and highly regarded company that is CaJohn’s.
Previously, I was a big fan of their 7-pot primo sauce, until the fakeness of it’s lemon oil came through. So I’m interested to see how CaJohn’s handle the serrano, habanero and reaper in today’s products and whether they’ll taste just that little bit more real.
Before I begin, though, I’d like to take a look at the labels, as always. Because, being licensed products, their branding is going to be a huge part of their appeal. And it does look quite stunning.
Starting off with the mild, brown one of the bunch, the “Welcome to my Nightmare” name is a perfect fit. Using one of Alice’s early hits to cement the idea that this is his entry level sauce, without losing the sinister feel.
And its art reflects that, with a perfect rendition of his face, adorned in the same eyeliner that was worn for the song’s release, crafted entirely out of white smoke. His nose missing, to appear more skeletal and deadly.
To me, that late seventies style is classic Cooper. But it won’t be everyone’s image of him and it doesn’t feature on today’s second sauce.
This one takes on the simpler, rounder style of make-up, worn in the nineties, to match the “No More Mr. Nice Guy” name. One which tells us that the gloves are off and, while this isn’t his hottest sauce, it doesn’t pull any punches either.
Underneath the eyeliner, though, that same, wispy face remains. Transparent, in order to show off the colour of the contents.
A bright, orange sauce, speckled with shards of white onion and garlic and contrasted by the blue and green of the bottle’s text.
It’s the same general design as the first, yet those colours make it look completely different to the orange and yellow on herby brown that we already saw. And to out third sauce, as well.
This one is probably the artist’s biggest hit: Poison. The most iconic instrumentation in all of Alice’s work and a brutally to the point name for his carolina reaper sauce.
If you haven’t built up an immunity, this one’s going to kill you. Though probably only metaphorically.
For this third and final sauce, the text is yellow and green, to offset itself from the black-speckled brick red beneath. And the cheeks of his skull-like face have been extended, in order to fit an exaggerated version of his current, starburst eyes.
Combine that with the bolder, more pointy font for its one word name and this is easily the most impactful of the three. Though I, personally, still prefer the design of the mildest and the colour of the medium.
No matter which is your favourite, however, they all look amazing and will make great collector’s pieces. Especially with their carefully-worded, lyric-referencing blurbs, on the back.
But that’s only half of their appeal, at most, and what I’m really here for are the contents:
Starting with the Welcome to My Nightmare, the sauce inside is a thin, yet not watery, murky brown. Filled with shreds of what appear to be herbs but are, in fact, either chilli or garlic.
According to its ingredients list, this is a herb-free blend, made primarily from green serrano mash. Fermented chillies which have a lot in common with jalapeños, only with a little more in the way of heat and earthiness.
An earthiness which I definitely taste, since it’s been bolstered both by the ageing process and by its added cumin. But, I’m sorry to say, that’s not the main flavour, here.
No, the main tastes in this product are sour and salty, giving it a very pickled flavour.
Personally, I’m not into that. To me, it reeks of low quality, over-salted mash and a similar overabundance of vinegar – As if CaJohn’s have cheaped out on their ingredients – but some people like pickles rather more than I do. So I’m certainly not going to rule out the possibility of someone really liking this sauce.
I am, however, a little disappointed when I come to the second one. Because it’s the same exact thing.
It smells of vinegar and pours with an unnatural gloopiness, which clearly indicates how much thinner its already thin consistency would be, without its xanthan and other gums. Plus, when I taste it, it’s not quite as salty as the previous sauce but the salt is still ever so apparent in this No More Mr. Nice Guy.
I will say, I enjoy the hints of onion and habanero, in with the vinegar and salt, but I’d prefer if that onion wasn’t powder and the habanero was less bulked out with carrot. The whole thing could definitely be fresher.
Poison, however, is a little bit different.
It’s thin, yes, but not quite as much so as the others. And there are no thickeners in this one.
Plus, its scent is rich and peppery, not vinegar-forward. So it’s not really a surprise when this one really does taste of rich, lightly smoky, red chilli. Or even when that chilli later proves to be recognisably reaper.
Poison is easily the best of these three Alice Cooper sauces and I really rather like it. Despite its whopping
mouth heat making it hard to use in significant quantities.
The only problem is that it uses that same lemon oil from CaJohn’s <Hydra>, which sits unpleasantly in my throat, after I swallow.
For a moment, I wonder why. Given that the Welcome to my Nightmare featured real citrus, was there any reason why this sauce couldn’t have?
Well, yes, I suppose there was. Because I couldn’t taste any of that real lime or lemon over the Nightmare’s vinegar.
Here’s the full list of that sauce’s ingredients, for reference:
Green Serrano Pepper Mash (Green Serrano Peppers, and Salt), Apple Cider Vinegar, Lime Juice, Chili Powder, Roasted Garlic, Cumin, Xanthan Gum
Here’s the one for No More Mr. Nice Guy:
Distilled Vinegar, Aged Red Habanero Peppers, Salt, Dehydrated Carrots, Dehydrated Onions, Dehydrated Garlic, Gum Blend, Natural Flavour
And here’s what went into the Poison:
Vinegar, Reaper Chiles, Sugar, Salt, Garlic, Black Pepper, Spices, Lemon Extract.
I will say, that “natural flavour” had me concerned, at first, because it sounded like chilli extract. But, if it actually is, it’s far milder than most, since the sauce only hits a high
throat heat. Which isn’t even on par with the hottest natural habanero products.
Whereas the Welcome to my Nightmare is exactly where I’d expect a serrano sauce to be, with its
back and sides tingle. And nine point five is a good, high end reaper burn.
Personally, though, I still think that these particular products are more about the showmanship than the spice and that their flavours could all use some improvement. So, if you’re interested in what else I’ve had with these chillies, why not check out my pepper pages for the serrano, red habanero and carolina reaper?
Thanks for reading, everyone.
I don’t know how to feel about carrots in my hot sauce. Is it normal to bulk them out that way?
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I see it in a lot of habanero sauces. Mostly from mexican and belizean-style brands. It usually pairs well with the orange version of the pepper and can even give the sauce a fresher flavour, so I wouldn’t write a sauce off just because it uses carrot.
In this case, however, it seems more prominent of a flavour than the chilli, itself, and the fact that it’s dried means that that freshness isn’t there. I don’t think it does much good for No More Mr. Nice Guy.
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