Dave's Insanity Sauce is widely regarded** as the Grand Poobah of "extreme" hot sauces. In its wake, there have been scores of imitators brought to market, some hotter than Dave's wares, and some tastier, but Dave's original Insanity Sauce will always be the most recognized. It's kind of like Star Trek: The Next Generation ... It is in many ways superior, but will never be as recognized as the original.
"Boy, this stuff is hot." -- Bryant Gumbel of The Today Show, in an unusual ejaculation of enthusiasm.
Dave's Insanity Sauce first came into being in 1992 or 1993 while Dave Hirschkop was managing a Mexican restaurant/bar in Maryland called Burrito Madness. One night Dave began experimenting with extremely hot sauces, which he fed to the drunk patrons. To his surprise, the drunks either got really quiet or left in a hurry. Thus, Insanity Sauce was born, named because you'd have to be insane to enjoy the stuff. Many people (myself included) proudly proclaim that they are indeed afflicted with such an insanity.
Dave submitted his product to the National Fiery Foods Show in New Mexico one year, probably 1993, and despite the nature of the show, Insanity Sauce was banned for being too hot, largely because of the presence of capsaicin extract in the sauce, as previously no one had added it to something deemed fit for human consumption. The fact that Dave showed up at the show wearing a straitjacket did much to further the image of Insanity Sauce.
The stuff is made largely from the placenta of red savina habanero peppers (the hottest part of the pepper), which is regarded as one of the hottest peppers in the world. As a result, the whole packs a whopping 326,000 Scoville Heat Units (as opposed to Tabasco Sauce, which boasts a feeble 3,700 SHUs). Other ingredients include tomato sauce, onions, vinegar, spices, soy oil, garlic and salt.
It also packs a hella mean punch. Take a toothpick and dip it in the sauce, then touch the tip of the toothpick to your tongue. At first you'll think, "This isn't so bad... it's actually kind of tasty." If you don't feel like savoring the smoky, barbeque-like flavour (or if you can't discern it amid the mass of chemical burn your tongue has become), you'll immediately be making a mad dash for the nearest source of liquid in an attempt to extinguish the nuclear heat currently spreading its way across your mouth and down your throat. Most people use it only by the drop and only as an ingredient, not a condiment—it's much too strong to be used as a condiment, except to a very small number of truly crazy people. Sautée a chicken breast in olive oil and one drop of Insanity Sauce and you'll see what I mean. Dousing your tongue with petrol and then setting it alight probably wouldn't be as hot.
Heat level: 10+ -- don't let this fool you, though, as there are a few varieties of Insanity Sauce that are even hotter, such as Gourmet Insanity Sauce, which weighs in at 10+++.
If you're curious about trying this fiery delicacy but can't find it in your particular manusquire, I recommend ordering a bottle from Amazon, or the specialty Hot Sauce Depot:
or from Dave himself:
**: as of the time of this writing—mid-2002. Since then, it's been dethroned as the "hottest sauce on the planet" several times over by many different sauces. It is, however, still FIIIIRRRRE and definitely a good time, if you enjoy this sort of thing.