Charlie’s Hard Times Hot Sauce Review

The shtick behind Charlie’s Hard Times Hot Sauce is that in these trying economic times, one shouldn’t have to settle or compromise in order to afford and enjoy their hot sauce.  I immediately liked where this was going.  “Don’t wait for the government to give you a bailout,” proclaimed the label.  “Bailout your bored taste buds with this sauce!”  The label features a broke broker drawn in an abstract style and a short narrative detailing that the products were designed to keep everyone in the sauce “until we get through this mess.”

Of course, some people might remember that “Hard Times” is a novel written by Charles Dickens, making this English major laugh at the down trodden figure front and center on the bottle’s label.  Whether the makers of Charlie’s Hard Times Hot Sauce made this connection with their sauce’s name is unknown to me (though I doubt it); as the book is a condition-of-England novel, aimed at highlighting the social and economic pressures of the times, Charlie’s seems an appropriate condition-of-America hot sauce for this day and age.

The original Charlie hails from Riviera Beach, Florida.  His small company, Sauce Crafters, serves up dozens of varieties and intensities of hot sauces.  Thick, with a vinegary odor, Charlie’s Hard Times Hot Sauce blends aged red peppers with distilled vinegar, salt garlic, chipolte peppers and xanthan gum.  Proudly made in the USA, the vibrant sauce boasts visible red pepper seeds, and is “rich in flavor, not in price.”

I first poured a dollop of Charlie’s Hard Times Hot Sauce onto my finger, and cautiously licked it.  Satisfied that its small kick wasn’t going to engulf my tongue in flames, I moved onto two testing standbys: a breakfast-style egg and cheese sandwich and a bowl of humus.  On the egg and cheese sandwich, the sauce was dynamite.  While not necessarily bursting with spice, it added a bite and some much-needed flavor to the food.  Satisfied, I poured about a tablespoon into my bowl of humus, and proceeded to dip numerous thins (crackers and vegetables) into it during Sunday’s game.  An odd combination for sure, but one of my favorites.  Charlie’s passed the test once again, and the next day was added to a humus and vegetable melt with great success.

In the end, Charlie’s Hard Times was deemed more of a mild hot sauce when compared to others with similar ingredients.  While high in flavor, I would give Charlie’s Hard Times a 3 on the heat scale.  A solid choice for someone just getting into hot sauces, Charlie’s Hard Times will add some zeal to a meal, but don’t expect smoke to come out of your ears.

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