Everybody loves sauce. Ranch, Thousand Island, tartar, barbecue — everyone has their favorite kind. Whether it’s served on burgers, chicken wings or a cluster of French fries, we can all agree that sauce erases the blandness of our food and makes eating experiences a little more enjoyable. On TikTok, a creator has recognized our love of sauce and decided to create one of her own.
Chef Pii (@chef.pii) is a TikTok creator who, as her name implies, posts food-related content for her audience of over 170,000 followers. On June 11, Chef Pii uploaded a post where she dipped a piece of fried chicken into a bowl of Pepto Bismol-colored sauce — a substance she simply called “Pink Sauce.” Pink Sauce quickly became TikTok’s newest obsession as she continued to upload videos of herself drizzling it on different foods and watching tasters give it glowing reviews. On June 25, she announced that Pink Sauce was available for pre-order at a price of $20, which some found to be absurdly high. Despite this, Chef Pii’s pre-order sales were a success, and on July 1, Pink Sauce officially launched.
Why, exactly, did Pink Sauce generate so much hype, though? There are probably many others out there who made sauces of their own, so why did she strike gold with hers? One major reason was due to Pink Sauce’s mysterious flavoring. Aside from a few tasters claiming it’s spicy, sweet and tastes of sweet ranch, nobody could accurately describe the flavor. Not even Chef Pii could describe it; before starting up the pre-order sale, she answered a user who asked “WHAT IT TASTE LIKE BRUH” with: “Honestly, it has its own flavor. If you want to taste it, buy it.” That’s a good enough answer.
The other reason behind Pink Sauce’s hype has to do with the very color that gives the sauce its name. For a long time, users demanded to know the secrets behind its distinctive pink color, but while she did state that its coloring was naturally generated and not the result of additives, she “[couldn’t] tell you the ingredients [she uses] to make it pink.” In several of her posts, users pointed out how the sauce’s hue changed — in some, it appeared almost purple, while in others it was as bright as strawberry yogurt. She responded by saying it was due to changes in the lighting, not the sauce. Later, most likely due to the constant bombardment of questions (and accusations that her sauce was merely “pink mayo”), Chef Pii broke her own rule by uploading a post where she revealed a few of Pink Sauce’s ingredients, which included dragon fruit, honey and garlic.
After Pink Sauce became public, skeptics were quick to single out the numerous flaws and inconsistencies with the nutritional facts label and list of ingredients. TikTok user Sean SVV (@seansvv) pointed out how, according to the nutritional facts label, 444 servings were contained in each bottle, an amount comparable to, as he says, “14.4 grams, which makes almost 6,300-something grams in a whole bottle.” He also revealed that the sauce had an inadequate amount of preservatives to make it shelf-stable. On Twitter, a user named Dijtranada (@Dijah SB) revealed that a few of the ingredients listed were spelled wrong, such as vinegar being spelled as “vinger.” “Vinger,” according to a Forbes article, is the end part of the hand — not very appetizing. And, as if to emphasize just how poorly handled the information was, both the nutritional facts label and the ingredient list were printed on a piece of paper slapped on the bottle with what appears to be glitter glue.
Another thing that was criticized was the improper handling of milk, a key ingredient in Pink Sauce. Now, as we all know, milk tends to spoil easily when not handled properly, leaving the door open for harmful bacteria that could give consumers a nasty case of food poisoning. Since it contained so few preservatives, many bottles of Pink Sauce arrived at doorsteps completely spoiled and unsafe to consume. The packaging of Pink Sauce did not help the situation. In her video, Dijtranada revealed that Pink Sauce was shipped to consumers via bags instead of within proper containment, allowing the bottles to quickly spoil or even explode due to the high summer heat. Even if it did arrive unspoiled, skeptics warned that consumption was best avoided.
One particular subject of interest was whether or not Pink Sauce was FDA-approved. Since Chef Pii lives in Florida, she is allowed to sell her product under cottage food laws, which allow people to sell foods such as pastries, jellies and mixtures like Pink Sauce from their homes without needing the FDA’s approval. When asked about the FDA, Chef Pii insisted that she was “following FDA standards” and that her product was still in the “lab testing” phase. She also noted that her sauce is being prepared in a facility conforming to the FDA’s standards and pointed out that the FDA is helping her move forward. Regardless, some were still left unsure of Pink Sauce’s safety, especially after an incident on an Instagram livestream where she stated, “What do you mean, FDA-approved? I don’t sell medical products. The Pink Sauce is not a medical product?”
Pink Sauce became the subject of jokes, memes and criticism on the internet. On YouTube, Penguinz0, a commentator with over 11 million subscribers, compared Pink Sauce to a can of Raid, saying that “you might as well go down to your local Walmart and buy a can of Raid Wasp Killer and start chugging that.” SomeOrdinaryGamers, a commentator with over 3 million followers, warned that Pink Sauce could give consumers botulism, a potentially fatal disease found in contaminated food. Likewise, Twitter had little positive to say about Pink Sauce. Users wondered how people could buy such a questionable product, posted memes about it and compared it to Pepto Bismol. Some even claimed that those who purchased it were the same ones who resisted vaccinations during the pandemic.
Even Netflix added its addition to the Pink Sauce frenzy, posting a Tweet featuring the image of fictional “Black Mirror” singer Ashley O bathing with the caption: “Just got my pink sauce! I know what I’m doing tonight!”
What did Chef Pii have to say about all this? Following the backlash, the TikTok chef released a post where she apologized for the flawed nutritional information and for her other mistakes, explaining that she’s “only human” and that she made a typo that led to the “444 servings” issue. She also promised that, in the future, bottles would have the correct nutritional information, shipping would be more adequate and the cost for a bottle of Pink Sauce would be lower.
Regarding the FDA, Chef Pii stated that she is planning on giving Pink Sauce an official taste.
But what has affected — and what is still affecting — Chef Pii the most is the constant stream of ridicule from the internet.
“I woke up to a million insults,” she said during an interview with The Washington Post.
Besides the memes and criticism, the chef had to deal with a barrage of claims that Pink Sauce made consumers sick, that she had downplayed the issues surrounding the sauce and that she would face legal action for selling a faulty product. One TikTok user even went as far as to fake his own death and make Pink Sauce the perpetrator. Later, this user deleted his videos and apologized, claiming his stunt was only a social experiment. Chef Pii wasn’t having any of it.
“The apology wasn’t genuine,” she said during a Vice interview. “Not only did it affect my business, but my children had seen that video before I saw that. So, I had to come home to my child thinking that I had killed somebody.”
But all these attacks will not stop the chef from becoming a success. “I love my product. People love my product. I made a few mistakes. We’re coming back from it and we’re going to grow from there,” she said to NBC.
While most of the internet continues to rag on Pink Sauce and its creator, there are some who have voiced their heartfelt support. Even Sean SVV and Dijtranada voiced that they were all for entrepreneurs and small businesses; they just want it done right. But until we get a concrete answer, the fate of Pink Sauce is still up in the air. If all goes well for Chef Pii, we might see Pink Sauce sitting next to the bottles of Heinz ketchup in our local Vons.