If you love to cook (or just eat), TikTok is often the perfect place to find new and delicious culinary inspiration, and the latest viral food trend on TikTok — “Pink Sauce” — is certainly unique. In fact, questions surrounding the sauce (For example, what is pink sauce? Why is it pink? Is it actually shelf stable?) appear to be key drivers in the trending nature of the condiment (at time of writing, #pinksauce has more than 328 million views on TikTok).
Here’s what we know so far about the Pepto-hued sauce that’s taking over our feeds this summer — and why people are talking about it.
What is Pink Sauce?
As outlined in Today, Pink Sauce is a dipping sauce created by a Miami-based private chef and influencer known (for privacy reasons) by her TikTok username, Chef Pii. The sauce contains sunflower seed oil, honey, chili and garlic — along with dragon fruit, which is what gives the sauce the pink hue.
The product is relatively new (Chef Pii began experimenting with the sauce as recently as June 2021), and gained early attention on June 11 when the chef posted a TikTok of herself dipping a chicken tender into a bowl of pink sauce.
Though currently sold out, a bottle of Pink Sauce is listed for sale on its website at $20 USD. NBC News reports that Chef Pii began selling the sauce on July 1 and has sold around 200 units to date. However, the outlet also notes that the company has now paused production as the product is “currently in official lab testing” — though NBC News also notes that they were unable to confirm lab testing because Chef Pii wouldn’t disclose the name of the facility until the lab results are in.
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Why are critics concerned about Pink Sauce?
While Pink Sauce may be viral, much of the sauce’s notoriety is spurred by online critics.
The most common concerns online revolve around the product’s shelf stability, testing and safety for consumption. Chef Pii makes, sells and ships the sauce from Florida. Shipping from Florida means that the product is being shipped in high summer temperatures, but it also means that Chef Pii can follow Florida’s “cottage foods” laws, which “allows individuals to use their unlicensed home kitchens to produce for sale certain foods that present a low risk of foodborne illness.” According to these laws, “Cottage food operators can produce and sell these products directly to consumers without obtaining a food permit from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Gross sales for a cottage food operation must not exceed $250,000 annually.”
Regarding testing, Chef Pii told NBC News in an interview that they “didn’t do a testing on the sauce before sending it out to people,” but also noted that, “The sauce is absolutely fine without being refrigerated until you open it.” Chef Pii later clarified that she did, however, do “quality testing” beforehand.
When it comes to quality control, some people online point out inconsistencies in the product when it comes to colour (sometimes the sauce looks blush-toned, sometimes it’s a more vibrant fuschia).
Additionally, users pointed out discrepancies related to the product’s label. “First of all, (the label says) 444 servings but the serving size is 1 tablespoon. That’s around 28 cups,” TikTok user @annareportsnews said in a TikTok featured on the Today post about the sauce.
Other critics initially shared concerns over the lack of ingredients listed, to which Chef Pii later disclosed the inclusion of dragon fruit in the recipe.
Regarding issues with the product label, Chef Pii told NBC News that she plans to revise the product label to instruct people to refrigerate the sauce after opening. She noted that the issues could have been due to the label’s design, and said that the graphic designer “messed up” and that she would “triple proofread” the new label.
Others have speculated online that the sauce may contain mayonnaise (instead of milk, which is listed on the label), though Chef Pii told Glamour of her recipe: “I’m not gonna address my process, just because of legal purposes with my trademark and stuff like that,” she said. “We are looking to go into stores. However, their production of my process is absolutely wrong. I’m being judged from a video that I made before The Pink Sauce was a product. I was on my way out to a pop-up shop and I wanted to put The Pink Sauce on the food that day. And I just created a video.”
Moving forward, it seems that Chef Pii has high hopes for the success of Pink Sauce in the condiment sphere.
“We had a few mishaps,” Chef Pii said to NBC News. “You know, since this is so big, everybody wants a platform off of my platform … We only have like a handful of refund requests. Everybody else is saying, ‘baby girl, get it right’ and ‘we are waiting on our sauce.'”