You can’t think about American hot sauces without acknowledging Louisiana’s iconic contributions. Not to brag, but we pretty much invented the damn stuff in this country. Louisiana brands have dominated the globe, and can be easily found on every continent (we guarantee that you’ll find at least one Tabasco bottle on any Antarctic science station), while others remain more local. But which one is truly the best?
To find out, we enlisted folks who undoubtedly have strong opinions on the nature of heat: members of the New Orleans Fire Department, Engine 18. We came armed with a table full of hot sauce and the accoutrements with which to test their mettle (in this case, two loaves of fresh French bread, and 10lbs of boiled shrimp from Bevi Seafood Co.), and set out to officially rank Louisiana hot sauces once and for all. Our panel consisted of Bill Ballard, operator, 26-year NOFD veteran; Ken Kinler, firefighter, a 5-year NOFD veteran; and Rick LaCava, captain, a 19-year NOFD veteran. These guys have proven time and again that they can withstand some serious heat, so we were excited to find out which Louisiana-made hot sauce would reign supreme on their tongues.