Posted February 16, 2007 by Gildo in Reviews

Review: Life or Death Habanero Ketchup

Life or Death Habanero Ketchup

Ever since I was a little kid, there has been no substitute for the classic flavor of Heinz Ketchup. I’ve tried Huntz, Muir Glen Organic, Del Monte, and even some stuff called catsup. None of them have ever held a candle to Heinz. So when I received a shipment of sauces and found a bottle of Life or Death Habanero Ketchup from The Salsa King inside, I got kind of excited. You see, secretly, deep down inside, I guess I’m hoping that someday I will discover a new ketchup that can stand up against Heinz and add some variety to my ketchup options. Would this new ketchup be the one to share my affections? There was only one way to find out and one food to try it on ““ homemade French fries, or in this case, Gilroy garlic fries.

It was Super Bowl Sunday and I had decided that morning that our menu for the afternoon would consist of hot wings, garlic fries, pierogies, and beer brats. I have a pretty nice deep fryer and don’t get that many opportunities to use it, so a plethora of fried foods was absolutely necessary to justify its existence and to satisfy my craving for some deep fried goodness.

Just as the game began I got started and after polishing off a pile of wings, I turned my attention to the garlic fries. I mixed up the usual topping of chopped garlic, EVO, chopped parsley, salt and grated parmesan cheese. The fries came from large russet potatoes that I sliced into strips and rinsed to remove excess starch. Then came the deep fryer. I tripled fired them to insure the insides were light and fluffy and the outsides were nice and crunchy. Once they were done they went into the garlic mix and got plated up.

Life or Death Habanero Ketchup

Now it was time for the Life or Death Habanero Ketchup. It comes in a nice size 12 oz. bottle and the label is fairly straight forward and simple with a little dancing chili pepper king wearing a crown and holding a torch. It says it is all natural and has no trans fats, which is good, although I really don’t understand all the fuss about trans fats. I gave the bottle a good shake and we were immediately off to a bad start. After removing the lid, I noticed that the top of the neck of the bottle was plugged with dried up dark brown colored ketchup. I removed it with a knife and gave the bottle another good shake. I took a good whiff and to my dismay, it smelled just like a can of tomato paste with a hint of habanero pepper ““ and I stress hint of habanero pepper.

INGREDIENTS: Tomato puree (water, tomato paste), high fructose corn syrup, distilled vinegar, habanero powder, corn syrup, salt, onion powder, spices.

Undiscouraged by a bad initial impression, I poured some of the ketchup into a small container and tasted it off my finger. Same thing. Canned tomato paste with habanero flavor. The heat level was moderate, certainly not the “fire” as it is rated on the bottle, but it did put a nice tingle in my mouth. And the viscosity was near perfect. It poured smoothly and I didn’t have to fight with it to get it out of the bottle. But, where were all the flavors and smells you expect from ketchup? Where’s the vinegar, the onion, the spices? They were missing. I checked the ingredients and they are listed as being in there, but they just aren’t making themselves noticed. Someone call a search party!

The applications for this product are, well, anything you like to eat ketchup on. If you like ketchup and heat, and aren’t particular about which ketchups you put on your food, this may be for you. I on the other hand will stick with good old’ Heinz.


Aroma: 5/10
Flavor: 5/10
Heat: 7/10
Appearance: 9/10
Viscosity: 9/10
Applications: 2/10
Packaging: 5/10

Overall: 5.5/10

The Salsa King
Fine Southwestern Foods
P.O. Box 20473
Mesa, AZ 85277