We here at The Tailgate Society love a lot of things: Sports, music, movies. But there’s nothing that generates more discussion on the Slack than food. We are, of course, sponsored by our friends at Deadeye BBQ Sauce. If you’re going to put sauce on your wings, start there. That being said, sometimes you want someone else to do the cooking.
Buffalo Wild Wings recently announced a line of four new sauces: Pizza, Lemon Pepper, Orange Chicken, and Carolina Reaper Blazin’. When it came up for discussion, I was immediately interested. So I took some time and did an at-home taste test. I used boneless wings because it happened to be buy-one-get-one, and who doesn’t love a deal?
According to the “scale” on the BWW website, Lemon Pepper and Pizza are in the mild category, Orange Chicken in medium, and (as the name implies) Carolina Reaper Blazin’ is the hottest sauce they have. I will admit here that I did not come into this test unbiased.
I started my testing with Pizza, even though it’s technically higher on the spicy scale than Lemon Pepper. I had a suspicion that the Lemon Pepper could taint the Pizza. I made the executive decision to switch them around.
This is essentially the Parmesan Garlic sauce Buffalo Wild Wings has had for years, with what tasted like sun-dried tomato added. It didn’t exactly taste like pizza, and the Parmesan Garlic base comes through very quickly, but I like that sauce so I’m not going to complain. There is just a hint of spice that lingers on your tongue, seems like maybe some crushed red pepper to complete the Pizza experience. Overall, this was much better than I anticipated it would be.
Next up: Lemon Pepper. Also taking up residence in the Mild category, and it’s exactly as advertised. There is lemon, and pepper. And lemon. And lemon. It’s simultaneously too sweet and overly bitter. Like a handful of melted down yellow Starburst with some black pepper mixed in. It would work as a palate cleanser between spicier varieties, but I couldn’t eat a whole batch of them.
This brings us next to Orange Chicken. On the BWW scale it is planted firmly between Spicy Garlic and Asian Zing. Folks, I have to be completely honest with you. This one was a let down. It has the exact opposite problem of Lemon Pepper. There is simply not enough orange flavor here to satisfy your tastebuds. There also isn’t much spice to speak of, and I’m genuinely confused why this was so high up on the heat scale. This was the most disappointing sauce of the four, to be sure.
That brings us finally to Carolina Reaper Blazin’. This is replacing the original Blazin’, which I wasn’t a big fan of. The original was just hot without a lot of flavor. This Carolina Reaper version, though, is a better overall experience. More flavor, a little more sweetness, and a little less heat. There’s still plenty, don’t get me wrong! I was in a full face sweat and turning red in about 15 seconds, and it stuck around for a decent amount of time. If the most important thing to you is getting kicked in the face by spice, then this isn’t for you.
At the end of the day, a couple of these were better than I expected, and a couple were worse than I expected. Even the sauces I liked, I don’t think will be making any regular appearances in my order. I even went back while writing this up to have second tries at each sauce, just to confirm all of the above opinions. After more thought than this probably deserved, I’m ready to release my final rankings, and they are:
1: Pizza – Honestly, this was a bit of an upset to me. Parmesan Garlic is great, and the additions don’t take anything away from that base.
2: Carolina Reaper – I was nervous going in, but the spice wasn’t as bad as I was expecting and the flavors were better than the original.
3: Orange Chicken – I had high hopes, and it just didn’t live up. Not bad per se, but it’s nowhere near Asian Zing in its category.
4: Lemon Pepper – Another disappointing finisher. It’s just too overpowering to eat on its own, but one or two might be OK with just light sauce.
So what do you think? Am I on the right track, or am I out of my mind? Try them for yourself, then find me on Twitter @WLCyclone and tell me what you think!