A package arrived on our doorstop while I slept. The UPS driver grudgingly lumbered out of his icy delivery vehicle around 8:30 this morning, slowly hoisting up a box and bitterly dropping it onto the faded black welcome mat outside our door, causing a plume of dog poop-encrusted particles to shoot into the air like a pollinating daffodil. I immediately awoke from my dreams of circus biker gangs and scampered down the stairs, opening the door and pulling in the package like a prized ceramic hog statue. Scrambling to find a tool sharp enough to pierce the scientifically-fortified tape sealing my box of infinite happiness, I began relentlessly stabbing it with my car keys and a rusted Spuds MacKenzie bottle opener which had somehow traveled through time and appeared under the stove last month. After a few minutes punctuated by uncontrollable sweaty determination and the emotion I can best label as, "reckless insanity, unless of course being recklessly insane causes my insurance premiums to skyrocket, in which case I would label it as 'moderate pleasantness'," I had chiseled open the filthy cardboard container and laid eyes upon the most beautiful sight since the season finale of "Blossom": jars and jars full of hot sauce.

I had ordered a random set of hot sauces about a week or two ago, convinced that it would make a "hilarious" article if my fiancee and I consumed and reviewed them. Food product reviews on SA seem to generate an overwhelmingly positive response, especially if there's a good chance I can personally can go blind or suffer a critical heart attack in the process. When I informed my fiancee Megan that we'd be eating "obscenely hot sauce" for today's update, she responded by giving me this glaring, penetrating stare which she had only previously unleashed the time I informed her I'd been using her loofah sponge to fish out dog hair from beneath the couch. She tried to protest and make up lame excuses like, "I hate hot sauce" and "I think eating this stuff will be bad for the baby," to which I responded, "no it won't, only the GOOD hot sauce will hurt your precious little misshapen fetus," and then I let out this triumphant laugh because the room had suddenly become very silent and I think the temperature dropped by a few degrees. I eventually convinced her to join me on a taste test through the passionate back alleyways of Texas and New Mexico, and so began the Salsa Challenge.

THE SALSA CHALLENGE
Starring: Blair's Death Salsa, Dave's Insanity Salsa, Screaming Sphincter salsa, Salsa Stoopid, and Religious Experience Wrath Salsa

ALSO STARRING
Megan Austin, a black velvet painting of Notorious BIG, Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka, and the dynamic dog duo of Speedy and Polly

SAUCE #1: "Religious Experience: Wrath Salsa"

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: This salsa had, by far, the worst design. I know that "jar design" probably doesn't factor that highly into a salsa review, but let's just say that whoever was in charge of creating the label had very poor taste. As you will soon find out, so does the salsa! Ha ha! That's a joke! Woo boy, we're getting on this roller coaster ride to hilarity pretty early here, I don't know if I can handle the copious amount of wit spewing from my fingers like a volcano of refined humor. The most striking feature of Religious Experience had to be this cryptic sticker adhered to the top of it:

As you readers can plainly see, I'm willing to take the biggest risks just to provide you, the consumer, with free entertainment. This jar of salsa clearly expired OVER 40 YEARS AGO, yet this did not stop me from displaying a heroic mix of brazen courage and journalistic integrity when I opened it up and demanded my fiancee eat a big wad of it. The label contained some retarded story about how the person who invented this sauce had visions of angels and shoes while creating it, but the obnoxious neon pink background prevented me from successfully reading more than six words before realizing my eyeballs had smoldered into oblivion. Our initial impressions of this salsa ranged from "somewhat disappointed" to "fairly disappointed," as we were both expecting some kind of amazing goo to leap from the jar and finish our basement upon opening. Megan's biggest compliment revolved around the fact that it did not smell "like sweaty Mexicans," and I guess that's a pretty noble goal as far as food creation goes. I remarked that it looked like a bunch of tomato sauce poured into an ashtray that has sat inside a college frat house for a few days, although the distinct lack of cigarette butts was definitely a downer. The salsa had a pretty medium consistency, the perfect balance between smooth and chunky, so I guess this is the dip for all those folks who really enjoy staring at salsa.

THE TASTE: Megan declared it "wasn't bad," and continued to explain she "could taste the bell peppers, but cannot taste the zing." She then picked up the pink jar, looked at the jagged lightning bolt adorning the front, and complained, "I don't taste this lightning bolt either." I chowed down on a reasonable lump of it and my forehead began sweating slightly as I felt a slight burn in the back of my throat. When God created me, he shrewdly elected to line every square millimeter of my mouth with taste buds, giving me so many that I can actually taste food before I eat it days in the future. I guess I got some kind of religious experience from consuming this salsa, but since all my religious experiences are limited to "falling asleep while the white old guy wearing the robe drones on and on about bearded guys wandering around in the desert and eating clay," I don't think that's exactly a huge selling point.

SUSPECTED INJURIES CONSUMING THIS CAUSED OUR UNBORN BABY: Sore throat, achy fingers.

FINAL REVIEW:

MEGAN
RICH
Flavor
5
6
Heat
4
3

SAUCE #2: "Dave's Insanity Salsa"

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: I'm not sure who "Dave" is, but he surely has a very high opinion of his salsa, as he chose to decorate the jar's label with the phrase "The Hottest Salsa In the Universe" across the top. Oh come on Dave, let's be serious here: can you honestly state this salsa is the hottest in the entire universe? What if NASA engineers discover a hidden salsa reservoir on Mars sometime in the distant future; can I sue for false advertising? Am I to believe that this supposedly omnipotent character named "Dave" has traveled through both space and time, consuming samples of hot sauce like some sort of doughy white Pac Man? I don't know, but to further destroy his limited credibility, Dave decided to draw a little red thermometer on the cover with the word "INSANE +" at the top, presumably attempting to trick innocent consumers into believing this sauce is so spicy that you'd go crazy and murder your own face after eating it. Does Dave really think that we'll fall for his lies and believe he created a thermometer that measures from zero to "INSANE +," and after jamming it into his wondrous condiment, the mercury went off the scale? Come on Dave! That's almost as believable as that goofy cartoon on your jar showing a pepper getting a suntan on the beach. Peppers don't wear sunglasses, Dave... they don't even have a nose or ears to hold them up! The salsa itself was extremely runny and foul looking, like a puddle of vomit discovered beneath a bleacher seat in a baseball stadium.

THE TASTE: This was definitely hotter than the previous Religious Experience salsa, but that's like saying "the color red is more red than the color green." Megan had a noticeable increase of nose sweat after tasting this one, and the first words out of her mouth were, "HOTTER." Actually, I think that was the entire sentence, as she began staring off at some indeterminate object immediately after speaking. I shared the same sentiments regarding Dave's creation, and my eyes began to ejaculate water while the skin on my back began pumping out enough salty fluid to de-ice my windshield. Although neither of us were insane, Dave still did a pretty decent job creating a salsa which transcended a religious experience, at least heat-wise. The taste was pretty miserable, and I can't imagine anybody willingly eating this except to possibly win a bet or because their friend keeps on hounding them to try it due to the fact that their friend is a raging idiot. Also, why would a pepper even need a suntan? Huh Dave?

SUSPECTED INJURIES CONSUMING THIS CAUSED OUR UNBORN BABY: Slight brain tumors, the inability to differentiate between white and black.

FINAL REVIEW:

MEGAN
RICH
Flavor
5
3
Heat
6
7

SAUCE #3: "Blair's Death Salsa"

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: I had really high hopes for this one, primarily because I love death and think it's totally awesome. I remember how I'd sit in class back in grade school, drawing rad pictures of the Grim Reaper sweeping down and stealing the souls of all he touched. The tough kids would come up to me and ask, "what are you drawing?" and I'd say, "the Grim Reaper, because he's gnarly to the max," and they'd say, "the Grim Reaper sucks you fag," and I'd say, "that's right, he does suck, and he's gonna SUCK YOUR SOUL RIGHT OUT OF YOU!" and then I'd start making really loud ghost noises while praying the teacher would come back into the room and make them sit down and leave me alone. The teacher never came back at the right time, so I often ended up suffering from a medical condition known as "Punched In the Head Syndrome." Much like death itself, this salsa is very chunky and crammed full of tomatoes. It's like they never even bothered crushing them, instead holding a contest to see who could cram an entire tomato into a jar without injuring it at all. In fact, I don't even remember any salsa in the jar; it was just a bunch of tomato chunks. "Ooooh, chunky," Megan exclaimed upon opening it. Then she smelled it. "Is this supposed to be salsa?" she asked. After taking a whiff and realizing it had absolutely no smell at all, I wondered the exact same thing. Maybe it's some kind of expensive pizza topping.

THE TASTE: I think I can best summarize its taste by quoting my fiancee. After swallowing a mouthful of Blair's Death Salsa, she simply spoke out, "it's..." and then trailed off, unable to think of any defining adjectives that could possibly describe the severe letdown. There was no death in this salsa. There wasn't even any life-threatening injuries or communicable diseases which kill .05% of those infected. It was a tomato that somebody blew apart with a firecracker and then shoved into a jar. This crap would taste better in lasagna than a tortilla chip. Unless you want to die of old age, waiting to taste some type of spice from this bland jar of crud, don't plan on getting anything from Blair's Death Salsa, where the word "death" hopefully refers to the immediate future of his company.

SUSPECTED INJURIES CONSUMING THIS CAUSED OUR UNBORN BABY: A tendency to expect really awesome entertainment when coming into a Jerry Bruckheimer movie about exploding cars which blow up.

FINAL REVIEW:

MEGAN
RICH
Flavor
3
2
Heat
2
1

SAUCE #4: "Salsa Stoopid"

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Dumb. HOO BOY, SALSA STOOPID, WHAT A WACKY NAME, IT'S EVEN SPELLED IN AN INTENSELY COMICAL WAY, THIS IS JUST AMUSING AS ALL HELL! An equally hilarious drawing of a cross eyed cartoon man eating an orange triangle adorned the side, advertising a lucrative promise to "taste the IQ points melt away." That's what I'm looking for in a condiment: the ability to make me dumb after consuming it! I've always claimed I was a genius, what with me being a webmaster and using the Internet and all, so I gladly welcomed a sauce which would rid me of my cumbersome intellectual ability to forget what I'm talking about while I'm in the process of talking about it. Our initial impressions were equally unimpressed: it smelled just like the first two salsas, and if Blair's Death Salsa had a smell, we'd imagine it will reek just like that one as well. The cilantro stood out a bit more then the previous ones, so if you like the smell of cilantro, feel free to buy a couple quarts of this crap and spread it all over your body like a topical ointment. The consistency was a good balance between chunky and runny, which was a welcome break from the golf ball-sized tomato chunks seen in the previous review.

THE TASTE: Megan incredulously scooped up a pile of salsa and shoveled it into her mouth. While chewing, she began to give me her review. "Well, it's not really spicy, and-" and then she froze as if time had completely suspended. Tears began to swell up in the corner of her eyes and her hands violently shot out to grab a nearby glass of water. After pouring the entire glass down her throat, she got out of her chair to pour another one. "Oh god, it keeps getting hotter," she remarked while sticking her head under the kitchen faucet and drinking directly from the stream. Needless to say, things weren't looking good for me, and I really wasn't too excited at the idea of experiencing the same painful ordeal she was going through. Being in pain and agony is fine for pregnant women, but it isn't my cup of tea! Despite my fiancee's ominous beacon of pain, I pressed on and swallowed some myself, because by god I'm an Internet journalist and I owe this review to all my readers who don't pay me anything and cheerfully advise me to die when I write an unsatisfactory article. I immediately felt sweat dribbling out of skin pores I didn't know existed as my tongue began engaging in a anti-capitalist revolution, determined to escape by scampering down my throat and fleeing out my butthole. My review notes for this salsa simply read "oh dear god this is hot," and I think that's really all that needs to be said.

SUSPECTED INJURIES CONSUMING THIS CAUSED OUR UNBORN BABY: I'm fairly confident he's dead now. Thank you very much, Internet!

FINAL REVIEW:

MEGAN
RICH
Flavor
4
5
Heat
9
10

SAUCE #5: "Screaming Sphincter"

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Nothing says "classy" like a drawing of a hillbilly taking a shit in an outhouse. Although most people don't know it, that was Microsoft's original product logo for Windows. It wasn't a four-colored window, it was a hillbilly taking a shit in an outhouse. There's some highly stupid text on the side of the jar written in "hillbilly-ese," which I won't even bother copying and pasting because I don't want that kind of crap on my website. If it wasn't obvious enough what braindead state produced such a stupid product, a big red picture of Texas sits right next to the text, just in case there were some people who didn't have enough negative stereotypes of the state. The jar label goes on to list a dictionary description of the word "sphincter," thus giving everybody of every educational background the chance to enjoy the hilarious title of this salsa. Ha ha, it means your butt is shrieking! That is funny because butts do not normally shriek. Also it's funny that I actually paid money for this and therefore contributed to the company thinking the American public really wants to buy stuff adorned with authentic hillbilly-crapping action. The salsa itself resembled a cheap, runny ketchup with burned up particles of the space shuttle submerged it. Megan inhaled the fumes from it and remarked, "all these smells are making me sick," which is one of the finest compliments you can give a chef. I just thought it smelled cheap, like the plain white VAL-U-SAVE crap you can buy for 1/100th the price and expiration date of the name brand salsa.

THE TASTE: Generic salsa. I don't really know how else to describe it, mostly because we both said the exact same thing at the exact same time of tasting it. It's not bad and it's not good... it's generic. Perhaps Texas residents have very sensitive sphincters, because ours sure as heck weren't screaming or making any noises at all. Well Megan's wasn't, at least. I can't remember the last time my sphincter stopped making noise long enough for me to boastfully brag about my butthole's newfound silence. Come to think of it, why exactly would a spicy salsa make you have to use the restroom at all? I mean, going to the bathroom was the last thing on my mind after eating the Salsa Stoopid, I was more concerned with wiping the tears from my eyes, drinking a gallon of water, and ending my suffering by blowing my brains all over the wall with a high powered shotgun. I can't even think of a reason I'd have to use the bathroom, except to maybe submerge myself in the bathtub and attempt to manually remove my taste buds with a razor blade. Then again, I guess I'm not the target audience of "drooling white trash who eats salsa sitting on the outhouse toilet," which I assume is a native Texas thing. How that state is able to afford so many white SUVs will always be a mystery to me.

SUSPECTED INJURIES CONSUMING THIS CAUSED OUR UNBORN BABY: A significantly decreased attention span due to the rampant boredom contained in this jar, possibly an affinity to outhouses or lanky white trash.

FINAL REVIEW:

MEGAN
RICH
Flavor
5
3
Heat
5
2

Although roughly half of these salsas were pretty severe letdowns, the raw pain and internal bleeding caused by the Salsa Stoopid more than made up for it, giving both of us a real pleasant memory of the Salsa Challenge. Unfortunately, it also gave my fiancee a new grounds for divorce and probably also a potential attempted murder charge, so I'm not too sure who the winner was here. I'd like to thank all you kind ladies and gentlemen for reading this and enjoying your free entertainment at our expense, and I would like to leave you with the final words of my personal hero, a quote which dramatically changed my life because it reflects so perfectly on the essence of mankind and what mysterious intangible force drives us all to strive for perfection:

DAMN NIGGA, WHO BE SHOOTIN ME?

– Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka (@lowtax)

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