We took the 'Hot Ones' challenge, and the spicy wings of death weren't as unbearable as we feared they'd be

We took the 'Hot Ones' challenge, and the spicy wings of death weren't as unbearable as we feared they'd be
  • Four members of Insider's entertainment team took on the "Hot Ones" challenge.

  • Surprisingly, most of the 10 sauces in the season 22 lineup weren't as spicy as we anticipated.

  • However, the Da Bomb Evolution hot sauce, the eighth in the lineup, was truly rancid.

I, Olivia Singh, and three of my teammates —Libby Torres, Callie Ahlgrim, and Palmer Haasch — decided to test our spice tolerance by taking on the "Hot Ones" challenge.

Four of Insider's reporters preparing to eat hot wings.
From left to right: Olivia Singh, Libby Torres, Callie Ahlgrim, and Palmer Haasch.Courteney Larocca/Insider

The show, hosted by Sean Evans, was created by First We Feast founder Christopher Schonberger and launched in 2015.

"Hot Ones" began as a unique and unconventional way to interview famous guests while eating wings covered in increasingly hotter sauces.

Over the course of 22 seasons and more than 300 episodes, the show has welcomed stars like Gordon Ramsay, Billie Eilish, Shaquille O'Neal, Tom Holland, and Margot Robbie.

In disarming the guests, "Hot Ones" has generated some of the most viral celebrity moments, from Paul Rudd's "Look at us" meme to Jennifer Lawrence's panicked "What do you mean?" clip.

So, after years of being fans and loyal viewers of "Hot Ones," we wondered: How hot can these sauces possibly be? Is the sweating, crying, and body numbness warranted? Are celebrities just being over-dramatic? Does this challenge still hold up for us non-famous folks?

To get to the bottom of this, we volunteered to see what the hype is all about.

We started by recreating the "Hot Ones" setup, from the black tablecloths to the pitchers of milk and water.

A conference room table set up with black tablecloths, wooden cutting boards, napkins, and cups.
We conducted our "Hot Ones" challenge in a conference room at our New York office.Courteney Larocca/Insider

We also had wet wipes, toothpicks, and plenty of napkins on hand.

The Heatonist team sent us the official season 22 lineup of sauces for our challenge.

A row of 10 hot sauces that are featured on season 22 of "Hot Ones."
The first episode of season 22 of "Hot Ones" premiered on September 21.Olivia Singh/Insider

The 10-pack includes a first-ever original "Hot Ones" buffalo hot sauce, plus other new lineup additions like Pisqueya's spicy-sweet passion-fruit sauce and The Last Dab: Xperience.

We coated our boneless chicken wings using the "Hot Ones" method.

Various paper bowls filled with coated boneless chicken wings.
We coated 40 boneless chicken wings in hot sauces.Courteney Larocca/Insider

To ensure an even coating on the wings, the "Hot Ones" team pours each sauce into a bowl with the corresponding wings and covers it with another bowl, in a clam-like manner. Then, the bowls are shaken.

As we meticulously sauced the wings, the room was overtaken by the various aromas of the different hot condiments.

Four of Insider's reporters coating chicken wings in various hot sauces.
The room smelled good, at first.Courteney Larocca/Insider

At the onset of the coating process, the smell in the room was pleasant. But the further along we got in the process, as more sauces were opened, the odor became less enticing.

Even catching a whiff of the Da Bomb Evolution hot sauce caused Olivia to cough à la Idris Elba.

"It doesn't smell spicy, but it doesn't smell good either," Callie said.

Once the coating was complete, we placed the wings on wooden boards.

Ten boneless chicken wings lined up on a wooden cutting board.
We tried to replicate the aesthetics of the "Hot Ones" experience as best as we could.Courteney Larocca/Insider

"My main takeaway right off the bat is that you should never put green hot sauce on a chicken wing, ever," Callie said.

Before diving in, we gauged all the contestants' comfort levels when it comes to spicy food.

Three of Insider's reporters sitting at a table, preparing to eat hot wings.
We had varying degrees of comfort with hot sauces.Courteney Larocca/Insider

This is a common question that "Hot Ones" host Sean Evans asks his guests before they take on the wings of death.

I, Olivia, the pickiest eater in the group with the lowest tolerance for spicy foods, wasn't too optimistic about my odds going into the challenge.

Libby felt that she had a solid tolerance, but acknowledged that some peppers she's previously eaten have required "a certain amount of emotional strength."

"I love spicy food," Callie said. "I like my food to feel like a challenge. But I don't want to over-promise and under-deliver. So, I will say I am moderately confident."

Palmer's affinity for spicy food traces back to the days of eating spicy ramen in college. Even though the hotter sauces in the lineup seemed daunting, she said, "I will make it to the end. That's a promise."

With everything in place, we were excited to start the challenge.

Four of Insider's reporters sitting at a table and preparing to eat chicken wings.
Here we are at the start of the "Hot Ones" challenge.Courteney Larocca/Insider

Beyond looking forward to sampling the hot sauces, we were also eager to eat the wings because we unintentionally scheduled this experience during lunchtime and were fairly hungry.

Our 25-minute "Hot Ones" journey began with the classic Buffalo sauce.

A bottle of Buffalo sauce.
The first sauce in the season 22 lineup is a Buffalo sauce.Courteney Larocca/Insider

It was tangy and mild in taste.

Next, we moved on to Angry Goat Pepper Co's blistered shishito and garlic hot sauce.

Four of Insider's reporters eating chicken wings at a table.
The second sauce in the season 22 lineup contains blistered shishito mash and dried minced garlic.Courteney Larocca/Insider

We admittedly judged this sauce based on its green hue, but it turned out to be delicious.

The third sauce was also quite mild but with a surprising sweetness.

Three of Insider's reporters eating chicken wings at a table.
The third sauce in the season 22 lineup has a passion-fruit flavor.Courteney Larocca/Insider

Pisqueya's spicy-sweet passion-fruit sauce tasted more sweet than spicy.

Los Calientes Barbacoa, developed by "Hot Ones," also had a reasonable heat level.

Two bottles of hot sauce on a table.
The third and fourth sauces were bearable.Courteney Larocca/Insider

We were feeling pretty confident at this point, though Palmer noted that she felt a "cumulative burn" building.

The fifth sauce, Djablo's Power Jab hot sauce, packed a punch.

Two of Insider's reporters eating hot wings and drinking milk.
The fifth sauce in the season 22 lineup contains serrano pepper, Thai chile flake, and dried scorpion pepper.Courteney Larocca/Insider

Immediately upon consuming, I was hit by the sauce's blend of serrano pepper, Thai chile flake, and dried scorpion pepper. The heat also caused a tingling sensation on my lips.

We kicked off the second half of the lineup with the Whiskey Smoked Ghost by Marshall's Haute Sauce.

Insider's reporters sitting at a table and eating hot wings.
The sixth sauce in the season 22 lineup contains apple-cider vinegar and Uncle Nearest 1856 whiskey.Courteney Larocca/Insider

It was sweet and smoky, and a crowd favorite for us.

As we moved on to sauce No. 7, Ginger Goat's Tropic Star hot sauce, we took a moment to applaud ourselves for making it this far, largely unscathed.

Four of Insider's reporters eating hot wings.
The seventh sauce in the season 22 lineup features ginger and lemongrass.Courteney Larocca/Insider

It was a real "Hey, look at us" moment.

"I am starting to wonder if the celebs are playing us, because I feel completely fine," Callie said.

Palmer, on the other hand, began to feel the heat on her lips and noticed her nose running.

Then we arrived at Da Bomb's Evolution hot sauce and things started to go downhill.

Two of Insider's reporters drinking milk.
Da Bomb's hot sauce is no joke.Courteney Larocca/Insider

Typically, it's this point in the challenge when guests on "Hot Ones" truly feel the heat – and we were no exception.

The sauce didn't taste great to us and felt like it was designed with enough heat to torture us. Its ingredients include red-hot chili peppers, paprika, turmeric, minced garlic, lemon juice concentrate, and cilantro.

"The saliva is welling in my mouth," Palmer said, reaching for a cup of milk.

Callie, channeling previous "Hot Ones" guest Lorde, was unmoved.

The heat kept coming in increasingly worse waves and I tapped out.

Insider reporter Olivia Singh eating hot wings.
I couldn't handle the heat.Courteney Larocca/Insider

My eyes started tearing up as my nose started running. No amount of milk helped, so I decided to drop out of the challenge.

We looked over at Libby and noticed that she had gone non-verbal.

Insider reporter Libby Torres looking at a tray of chicken wings.
Libby suffered in silence.Courteney Larocca/Insider

"I either need more milk or I need another moment," she said.

So, we paused for a brief intermission while I walked off sauce No. 8 and got more milk for the table.

Sauce No. 9, Zuzu 7-Pot by Dawson's Hot Sauce, was a welcome reprieve from the harsh spice of the Da Bomb Evolution.

Three of Insider's reporters preparing to eat chicken wings.
The ninth sauce in the season 22 lineup has a base of red bell pepper.Courteney Larocca/Insider

"It's definitely less intense," Callie said.

"And it tastes better," Libby added.

Before eating the final wing, we put a little extra sauce on it per the "Hot Ones" tradition.

A bottle of hot sauce
The final sauce in the season 22 lineup is called The Last Dab: Xperience.Courteney Larocca/Insider

The Last Dab: Xperience is a "Hot Ones" original that's brand new to the lineup and the hottest Last Dab ever featured on the show. The main ingredient is Pepper X (91%, to be exact).

The effects were instantaneous, but not as unbearable as expected.

A close-up of an ear that has turned red.
Palmer's ears turned red.Courteney Larocca/Insider

For Libby, the spice lodged in the back of her throat.

Palmer's eye makeup started running, but she insisted she was fine. Her red ears (pictured above) betrayed her.

Callie, meanwhile, was unfazed and glowing.

Insider reporter Callie Ahlgrim during the "Hot Ones" challenge.
Callie was fine.Courteney Larocca/Insider

Instead of weakening Callie, it seemed like the hot sauces fortified her.

"I think it's fine, honestly," she said of the final sauce. "It actually feels anti-climatic after Da Bomb because that one was so unpleasant."

We were shocked that a majority of the hot sauces weren't as spicy as we thought they'd be.

Four of Insider's reporters after completing the "Hot Ones" challenge.
Here were are at the end of our "Hot Ones" journey.Courteney Larocca/Insider

We didn't have the added stressors that celebrities deal with when they take on the challenge, like multiple cameras recording them from different angles so the world can watch later or having to form coherent responses to insightful, career-encompassing questions.

That said, we are impressed by the stars who have eaten all 10 wings without drinking anything.

We were surprised by how mild the first half of the sauces were, with the punch of No. 5 being the exception.

Would we do this challenge again? Probably not. No one should ever be subjected to Da Bomb's hot sauce more than once in their lifetime.

But at least now we can confidently say that we're more resilient than some of our favorite stars who have taken on the "Hot Ones" challenge.

Read the original article on Insider