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Hot Sauce Nation: America’s Burning Obsession  by 

Published by Chicago Review Press (May, 2016)

Hot Sauce Nation is a red hot ride through the story of hot sauce in America, beginning with the humble South American plant that travelled to the American Indians, who used its derivatives as both flavoring and a peculiar sort of preservative. Chili pepper-based sauces transformed cuisines worldwide and successive waves of immigrants landing in the New World have turned up the heat on the American palette with their native pungent sauces. Today, the super-fast growing hot sauce industry has made it into everything from salsa chips and dips to a have-to-have barbeque add-on. Told through history, current events, and real-world reportage the book explores the unique hold the dark prince of condiments has on the American heart.


"If you've ever wondered how such massive flavors and such paralyzing pain gets decanted into those little bottles, this is the book you've been waiting for. Denver Nicks weaves history, science, culture, and little bit of a lot else into a tidy, fun-to-read bundle. Enjoy this book by the drop or the spoonful."
—Wayne Curtis, author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in 10 Cocktails


"With verve, wit, and plenty of spice, Denver Nicks has captured the true flavor of the American experience. Hot Sauce Nation reads like gumbo on a page."
—Dane Huckelbridge, author of Bourbon and The United State of Beer


"As wonderful a condimental accompaniment to American cuisine as hot sauce itself. It is substantive, detailed, and, best of all, fun to read." —Tom Acitelli, author of The Audacity of Hops and American Wine


“Nicks has managed to sneak a road novel into a hot sauce history class.”
—The Currency of Cool

Denver Nicks is a writer based in New York City. Originally from Oklahoma, he has developed a reputation for intrepid reporting in challenging contexts. Nicks has written about street art in Poland, a failed coup in the Philippines, post-coup Honduras, and the hidden working-class underbelly of Wall Street in the midst of the financial meltdown. A Fulbright Scholar, he holds a Master’s of Science from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. His work has appeared in The Daily Beast, AlterNet, The Nation, This Land and other publications.