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Once upon a time, the Starbucks Pink Drink was all that. Today, there’s a new, saucier trend sweeping the nation – or at least TikTok. It’s called The Pink Sauce, and while it’s ostensibly vegetarian (can’t confirm or deny that, honestly, which we’ll come back to), there’s been major beef following the condiment’s release.
What Is Pink Sauce?
Created by Carly Pii, a private chef in Florida who goes by Chef Pii, The Pink Sauce is, according to its published ingredients list, concocted of sunflower seed oil, dragon fruit, chili, honey, garlic, distilled vinegar, pink himalayan sea salt, dried spices, lemon juice, milk, and citric acid. The label notes it “may contain” eggs and soy, as well.
But it’s the bright, bubblegum-like color that appealed to the TikTok world. Consumers went nuts over the sauce in June when it launched and the product sold out in 24 hours.
Pink Sauce creator Chef Pii’s TikTok has 59.9 thousand followers and over 2.8 million likes. She has posted multiple videos of herself using the sauce – which, for some observers, is where questions about the product began. In the videos, Chef Pii is seen putting the sauce on all kinds of different foods but never directly describes how Pink Sauce tastes. User @spillsesh_yt points out that the sauce appears to be different colors in various videos posted by Chef Pii.
went down the rabbit hole and I'm crying pic.twitter.com/P4DNOgHVcR
— todd chavez (@DijahSB) July 20, 2022
But a TikTok trend creates its own gravity and, as word of Pink Sauce spread, more users started hopping on board. Once Pink Sauce went up for sale, the amount of reviews and unboxing videos from other creators on the app exploded – and not all of them were positive.
What Does Pink Sauce Taste Like?
The taste has been described by some as a sweeter ranch, though others claim it’s more spicy.
The Chef Pii herself won’t explain the mystery flavor. “Honestly, it has its own taste,” she says in a TikTok. “If you want to taste it, buy it.”
Content creator Grace Mitsherlich, who has made an entire series of TikToks dedicated to Pink Sauce, says in one, “Death doesn’t scare me, but you know what does? The Pink Sauce.”
What’s Happening Here?
The controversy around Pink Sauce picked up as soon as the $20 bottles began to ship to buyers.
The first red (um, pink?) flag was the color. Consumers observed that some bottles appear a saturated, bubblegum pink while others present a more pale hue. In some videos, the product may appear cream or beige.
Similar variations have been observed in the texture of the product. In Chef Pii’s videos, the sauce is typically smooth, glossy, and pourable, but buyers have received bottles they describe as anywhere from “watery” to “chunky.”
Consumers were also shocked by the nutrition label printed on bottles. It read that there were 444 servings per container, with the serving size listed at 14.4 grams. Chef Pii addressed these concerns, characterizing the labeling mix-up as “a mistake” and stating that she and her team are rectifying it.
“My apologies,” Pii says. “I’m only human and I am not perfect. We have a team. Things happen. The grams got mixed up with the serving size. It was a mistake. We fixed the issue. We are replacing all the labels.”
i cannot stop looking into the pink sauce on tiktok… like i'm SO obsessed that she just completely mislabeled the nutritional information so it would have angel numbers
— nick (@toxnik) July 20, 2022
Earlier Pink Sauce bottles did not have instructions to refrigerate, so when Chef Pi announced it should be, after many had been shipped out, further confusion ensued.
“We are following FDA standards,” Pii says. “However, we’re currently in lab testing. So once we go through lab testing, we’ll be able to pitch to stores. We’re growing everyday. We’re listening to ya’ll, I see y’all.”
Early buyers also complained about issues with how the sauce was shipped. Several videos show consumers taking leaking, busted-open bottles out of what appears to be inadequate packaging. Some even alleged their sauce arrived spoiled. Chef Pii’s team has changed the shipping packaging which appears to have put an end to this particular woe.
Vegetarian Times reached out to Chef Pii to speak about the situation, but did not receive a response prior to publication of this story.
This Tastes Familiar…
The Pink Sauce is not the first wildly colored condiment to make a splash. In 2000, Heinz debuted EZ Squirt Blastin’ Green ketchup to promote the movie Shrek. It’s hard to believe a condiment the same color as broccoli would be so appealing to kids, but a year’s worth of orders were sold in mere months. Shortly after, Heinz tried to recreate the success with EZ Squirt colors like Funky Purple, Awesome Orange, Passion Pink, and Stellar Blue.
Trouble set in when Heinz had to remove the word “ketchup” from the product. Getting the vibrant hues required adding food coloring and changing the classic Heinz recipe. But parents began asking the natural question: If it’s not “ketchup,” what is it?
Parents were grossed out with the EZ Squirt and, after a couple years of colorful condiments, kids got bored. By 2006, the product was discontinued; soon after, the Food and Drug Administration sought to ban the use of eight specific artificial food colorings because of research suggesting that the additives could cause hyperactivity and behavior problems in children. The ban was not ultimately enacted, though some concerns about the chemicals continues.