Billy Mitchell... Since the deep state has it out for our King of Kong, our Cultan of Centipede, our Mr. Ms. Pac-Man, I've decided the only way to help our hero out is to review a single 5oz bottle of World Famous Ricky's Louisiana Hot Sauce bought off Amazon for $9.95 plus shipping. No prime 2-day delivery on this one boys, Bezo's got enough scratch.
Right off the bat, the packaging is remarkably un-Billy. There's no imagery of retro games, patriotic symbols, or even Billy's name anywhere. This is maybe the most surprising part of the whole experience to me. A lot of marketing in the hot sauce business is based on bravado and posturing, something that Billy has never shied away from. Instead a crude cartoon chicken is featured most prominently on a very primary color focused backdrop and text treatment. A bit hokey and amusing but nothing that strikes fear into the heart of the potential consumer.
It's SO unlike Billy Mitchell that I was still unconvinced that he had anything to do with this despite there being photos of him with an arm around a jug of this stuff and giving a proud thumbs up. Eventually I discovered a URL on the label that read rickeyshotsauce.com. Instead of more information all I found was a dead domain. Digging deeper I found a listicle on a site called Paste Magazine that said that Rickey's is a restaurant chain within Billy Mitchell's family. It still begs the question who is "Rickey" and how he's managed to keep what is presumably Billy's most famous sauce unadorned with Billy's name and face.
Moving onto ingredients, again we have a modesty that seems to run antithetical to Mitchell's larger than life persona. Only four simple ingredients: Louisiana Aged Red Cayenne Peppers, Vinegar, Garlic and Salt. There's absolutely nothing wrong with any of these ingredients. Plenty of amazing sauces use similar ones as a jumping off point or just by themselves. I happen to like cayenne a lot and there's nothing wrong with simplicity but there are certainly more complex tasting peppers out there. Additional note: if you see an ingredient list like this, typically it's safe to store outside the refrigerator, which is convenient! Sauces with more additives such as fruit should be stored in the fridge.
As for taste, I'll divide it into a few different quadrants. Flavor-wise you can taste all the ingredients and they're not overpowered by the heat. It doesn't last too long though, just as I'm getting the garlic and vinegar essence they start to quickly fade and I'm left with something that is vaguely ketchupy. For the type of hot sauce this is the heat is pretty up there and it does linger, though still nothing someone would start crying over if they weren't expecting it. Interestingly, this is a pretty thick sauce. A far cry from a watery Tabasco, this will stand up as big globs on eggs or tacos. Downside to that is that I could barely get it out of the bottle with the rubber spout that it was bottled with. I ended up removing it.
Rickey's is a sauce that doesn't run with the bad boys that have you chugging milk with your nose running. It's busy hanging out with the good ol' boys Sriracha, Franks Red Hot, Cholula, Tabasco, Tapatio, etc. This is a sauce you put on food, not in food, it's a condiment. That said, it doesn't do enough to differentiate itself from the others in its class. If you had to compare, it's somewhere between Franks and Cholula, two very popular sauces that each have aspects that give each their own identity that stands out. Rickey's is unremarkably decent but chances are it'd be on no ones mind if it didn't have a tangential namesake to Billy Mitchell. Add to that that it's much harder to find without forking over too much money just so you could review it on a videogame forum. Three stars out of five.