Pink Sauce next to a salad

Jade Steger

‘We got it done in about 90 days’: Pink Sauce’s unlikely journey from TikTok to Walmart

TikTok became the focus group for Pink Sauce.

 

Audra Schroeder

IRL

Posted on Jan 27, 2023

Last July, TikTok was fixated on Chef Pii’s Pink Sauce, which the Miami private chef created and eventually started shipping. Then came the backlash: It “smelled rotten,” shipments were late, the color wasn’t right, and it was alleged people were getting sick from the product. Chef Pii told Passionfruit at the time that they were “working rapidly to fix all the problems.” 

The Pink Sauce tag has more than 655 million views on TikTok, but the app cycles through trends at such speed that that could have been the last you heard about Pink Sauce. Then Dave’s Gourmet, a pasta and hot sauce retailer, swooped in to help. Earlier this month, Pink Sauce landed in Walmart

It’s an unlikely path for a viral TikTok food trend: Those typically stick around for a few months before being replaced by something else. Dave Neuman, president of Dave’s Gourmet, tells the Daily Dot this was the first time the company reached out to an entrepreneur with an assist. But now, creators on TikTok and Instagram, as well as “celebrities,” are apparently reaching out to them with ideas. 

The hot sauce company has been around for 30 years and is perhaps best known for its Insanity Sauce, which was reportedly banned from one food show after someone needed medical attention. 

“Our initial plan was just to help another entrepreneur,” says Neuman, who came on as president in 2021. He says they drew up a contract that would allow Chef Pii to still be the face and promoter of the brand while they refined and produced it, and she would receive a royalty. The Daily Dot reached out to Chef Pii for comment but did not hear back. 

@chef.pii

♬ original sound – PINK SAUCE QUEEN 👑💖🤤

Dave’s Gourmet made the new version vegan, since it’s safer for mass production, and TikTok’s audience is more vegan-friendly. The top ingredients listed on the label are dragon fruit puree, canola oil, and coconut cream, and the initial taste of Pink Sauce is sweet with a bit of a vinegar kick. But there’s also a strong lingering heat; garlic and ranch flavor are listed as well, but Neuman says it’s actually cayenne, which isn’t listed. Since it allegedly has an 18-month shelf life, there are also added preservatives. 

The response over the last few months, as TikTok influencers received bottles and it hit Walmart stores, is still mixed. In December, one influencer claimed he drank a whole bottle live, then recounted the obvious: “My body feels a little off.” Others were more accommodating.

@thequeenpo I finally got the OFFICIAL #PINKSAUCE Now let’s get into it! #pinksaucereview #fyp ♬ original sound – The Queen Po
@alm0stl0st #kaicenat #pinksauce #pinksaucereview ♬ original sound – Mostloss
@kyleskiki1 Comment if you want a part 2… i think imma be on the toilet all night 😂 #greenscreen #viral #pinksauce #pinksaucereview #pink #sauce #kyleskiki #trending #fyp #funny #foryou #foryoupage #pinksaucereaction #explore ♬ Chill Vibes – Tollan Kim

After reaching out to Chef Pii in July, Dave’s Gourmet took over production in August. Shortly after that, Walmart approached Dave’s Gourmet and wanted something on shelves by Jan. 1. 

“On the supply side, it’s very difficult right now,” Neuman says. And there were obstacles to overcome in terms of recipe and taste on a mass scale: Chef Pii had dairy in her original recipe, including ranch dressing. Holding the pink color also proved to be a challenge—and it’s something people have of course been commenting on

Neuman says they’re working to improve the color, which is provided so far by the dragon fruit, which contains a lot of water, and coconut cream, “But we also know pink is a subjective color.” 

Walmart also brought the price point down from $20 a bottle to $7.78, and it will be exclusive to the retailer until July. But Neuman admits he doesn’t know if the demand will still be there in a year.

“Typically a product like this could take a year or longer,” Neuman says. “We got it done in about 90 days.” He says if they’d had more time, they would have tried it out on focus groups first. 

But, in this case, TikTok is the focus group. 

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*First Published: Jan 27, 2023, 10:52 am CST