Chef Pii, 29, who refused to register under her real name, has an answer to all the criticism that has been leveled at her and her fledgling brand. First among them: her product, she says, is legal and safe. She does it in a commercial establishment certified by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the law, she says, and not in a home kitchen, as some people have suggested. She says she made the sauce, which she uses to top fried chicken, fries and vegetables, long before she produced it for sale. “I’ve been using it and serving it to my customers for a year – no one has ever gotten sick,” she says.
She recognizes the first stumbles, like mislabeled bottles. TikTokers had caught errors on the initial packaging and wondered if anything was to be believed. She says a typo in the graphic design mixed up the number of grams of product with the number of servings (444 servings instead of about 30 servings totaling 444 grams). And after receiving backlash, she added the instructions to “please refrigerate”. She apologized for the mistakes. “It’s a small business that’s moving very, very fast,” she said in a video posted yesterday.
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While customers started receiving their products when shipping began on July 1 (she said she’s sold around 700 bottles so far), people have complained that the packaging is poor, some displaying images of leaking bottles. Chef Pii says she changed shipping lines and apologized to customers whose bottles were damaged.
And to those who said they suspected the sauce contained something not listed – at least one video suggesting she used mayonnaise to thicken it had been viewed 3.9 million times as of Thursday afternoon – she says that’s just not the case. But she doesn’t divulge everything about her process: “I won’t explain my process and I won’t be bullied.”
Previously, Chief Pii had only offered a cryptic response to many people on social media who wondered if she was operating legally. “Yes, we follow the FDA standard,” she said in a video, adding that “we are currently undergoing lab testing, so once we go through lab testing, we will be able to present to the stores, to put the pink sauce in the stores.” She now plans to post a long video, possibly up to 45 minutes, to YouTube tonight to answer all the questions people have raised.
Many people thought it odd that the sauce’s inventor didn’t describe its flavor, an omission that helped stoke the mystery around the sauce — and fueled feelings that it was hiding something. But Chief Pii says she wasn’t intentionally shy or even trying to build hype. She says she really can’t put the flavor into words, which some have described as ranch-adjacent. “I wasn’t trying to be rude or anything,” she insists.
Another thing she says is not a trick? The distinctive color of the sauce, which comes from the red dragon fruit, or pitaya. Chef Pii says she has suffered from depression and anxiety, and has long found the properties of the fruit useful in treating her conditions. “I have a relationship with this sauce,” she says.
While some people on social media dug into possible legal or health issues, others simply enjoyed poking fun at the show.
No because people have talked about not trusting COVID vaccines. But they purposely spent $20 on watery “pink sauce” because they saw strangers on TikTok eating it. lmao.
— Bella Goth (@HotCommieGal) July 20, 2022
Chief Pii says some of the online backlash has stung. “I’m a normal human being and I woke up with a million insults,” she recalled. Still, she has big plans for the brand, starting with dropping the price from its current $20 to make it more accessible. She doesn’t want to sell her brand to a bigger company, but she dreams of partnering with one – maybe a fast food company that would serve her sauce.
But she’s trying to soften the backlash as she stays busy filling more orders.
“Yes, the sauce is hugely controversial, but to my curious, artistic people who are actually into the pink sauce craze, I love you all,” she said in a video this week. “Enemies do not take away my light.”