May it Please the Palate

 At the movies recently, I stopped by the snack counter where they had the usual selection of Raisinets, Swedish Fish, popcorn and soda. There was a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce on the counter. “What’s that for?” I asked.

“Popcorn,” he replied. “It’s great.” And indeed, it is.
Jean Hamilton, the 91-year-old star of Frank’s TV commercials, would agree. In a hilarious series of spots a few years back, she is seen revealing to characters as diverse as a priest and Queen Elizabeth, “I put that **** on everything.” In the shoot, she said the actual word. In the ad, it is bleeped out - barely.
Like the genteel but feisty Ms. Hamilton, Frank’s is still going strong after all these years. Frank’s was begun in 1920, the product of an arrangement between the Cincinnati-based “Frank Tea and Spice Company” and a Louisiana pepper farmer. They aged spices, vinegar, garlic, and cayenne peppers and bottled it. The rest is history. It didn’t hurt that in 1964, Frank’s was the key ingredient for the first reported concoction of Buffalo-style chicken wings at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York.
Aficionados maintain that Frank’s has an explosion of flavor without being too hot. Readers of this column may know that I too have a thing for Frank’s. It has endured as a regular staple in my pantry, ever since Frank’s and Tabasco were the only hot sauces you could buy in a store. Since then, despite a plethora of trendy and “artisan” hot sauces, sales remain strong. Frank’s is #1 overall, edging its fierce rival, McIlhenny’s Tabasco sauce. In a 2012 New York Times article, a McIlhenny’s spokesman maintained, in apparent seriousness, that Tabasco outperforms Frank’s in blind taste tests of chicken wing recipes. My own opinion was printed in a 2011 Legal News article, in which I referred to Tabasco as “Devil’s spittle.” I also sometimes refer to Frank’s affectionately as an “ancient Greek recipe.” That’s the highest honor I can give. Like Ms. Hamilton – who in real life adds Frank’s to hot cocoa, chocolate cake, and ceviche — I too put that **** on everything. Certainly the usual suspects, like pizza and chili, get a regular dose. So do most fried foods, like potatoes, chicken, and fish. I also use Frank’s to spike my hard boiled eggs and guacamole. When I’m too lazy to make guac, you can’t beat this very simple but elegant combination: a small slice of avocado on a rice cracker, with a dash of Frank’s. Canapés fit for a Queen.
I even keep a bottle in my office filing cabinet. In fact I’ve probably sent a few letters that I’ve signed over lunch, with a telltale spot of red in the corner.
As I said, I put that **** on everything.
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Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a litigation firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for “Current” magazine in Ann Arbor. He can be reached at nroumel@yahoo.com.  His blog is http://mayitpleasethepalate.blogspot.com/.
 

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