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This past weekend, I was strolling through the mall when I saw a particular bottle of a menacing seeming liquid at some store that I can not now remember. The image upfront was a glittery yet jittery image of a clown that is smiling yet looks bloody and angry. His name was the “Fiery Fool”. And he was quite an interesting addition to the Hellfire Hot Sauce brand.

In an air of competitiveness, this brand claims that this was “THE HOTTEST SAUCE IN THE WORLD WITHOUT EXTRACT”! At first I brushed it off as more exaggerated marketing to the extreme but then I realized that I had just heard about this phenomenon in a recent Gender Studies class. I bought this at $14.99 but for the low low price of $14, you too can feel the pain.

And you better believe that you will feel the pain. In fact, after trying a few small drops, I was in agony. It was like eating liquid lava. And this is coming from somebody that normally puts half a bottle of regular hot sauce on anything. Was this an example of the “extreme culture” that Mary Kosut was talking about? I believe so. According to her analysis, “extreme bodies engage in practices and regimes that push beyond the mundane or acceptable”. Although this might seem tame in comparison to the examples she mentions such as body suspension, this fire sauce that burns you inside was definitely not mundane. And it was definitely not exactly societally acceptable either. Of the 5 friends I asked, none of them wanted to try it. Even just the labeling scared them away. Spicy foods and spiciness definitely can relate to her definition of extreme as challenging to “the body’s limits and borders”.

But why would anybody choose such a life of burning and crying? Kosut can answer. Extreme experiences, in her view, are “uniquely carnal and sensate”. They represent our feelings and maybe even our motivations “to take charge of one’s life and body, and to defy comfort zones”. There is pleasure in the struggle and the pain. On a more scientifical level, research has shown that spicy foods elicit the release of dopamine and endorphins, making us happier even when the pain seems unbearable, confirming this as true. Personally, even though I felt like I was going to die, it was a good type of pain. I might have died but I felt like I achieved something by taking the sauce and I could die happily…

In my view and in the view of Kosut, there is a reason why these extreme products are so highly marketable in an extreme kind of way. “They purport to offer an embodied experience that involves intense engagement of the senses that is beyond ordinary.” After experiencing this hot sauce, as it really was an experience, I know that that is the kind of experience I would pay for. This hot sauce appeals to society in this way and it doesn’t bluff.

I would urge anyone to try this hot sauce. If you would like to try some, you could ask me as well!!!

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