Scientists create new hot sauce that "mimics bite of a venomous spider"

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A good hot sauce should be equal parts irresistible and terrifying. In the right quantities, chillies can be both agonising and addictive. There’s something about having the inside of your mouth melted that makes spicy food some of the most moreish on the planet. However, according to an announcement made this week, it seems as though some scientists have taken the hunt for the perfect balance between pain and pleasure a little too far.

Inspired by the potent power of natural animal toxins, British-based company Venomtech have recently announced an al-new, arachnid inspired hot sauce guaranteed to terrify even the most ardent pepper-head. Designed to recreate the effect of a bite from the venomous Trinidadian chevron spider, the company have come up with “Venom Chilli Sauce”, a powerful condiment that owes its flavour to much more than red chillies.

Created by managing director and founder Steve Trim, the hot sauce has been made by carefully testing and artificially recreating the venom of the aforementioned spider, before mixing it with other ingredients in a bottle like no other on the market. As 41-year-old Trim himself says, “It’s as best as we can manage without actually tasting the venom.” The end result is certainly nothing to be sniffed at.

In an interview with The New York Post, Trim revealed how the idea for the sauce came from a conversation with marketer Stefano Cuomo. According to Trim, “We focus on studying venoms and how they work in the biology for drug discovery and through this research we became aware that the Trinidad Chevron venom actually works on the same receptors as capsaicin,” adding, “It was about two years ago when we had that first light bulb moment.”

Although the pair initially wanted to include actual spider venom as a key ingredient in the sauce, Trim revealed how their plans were thwarted by the British Food Standards Agency’s revelation that it would take about £20,000 to tell whether or not the poison is actually safe for human consumption. In order to raise these funds, Trim and his team instead decided to start work on a synthetic version, which is currently on sale to the public. By carefully studying the chevron venom, they have been able to establish exactly what effect drinking it is likely to have.  

Despite its scary origins, Trim claims that the sauce itself isn’t actually as terrifying as some other condiments on the market. Describing the flavour, he revealed, “It’s hot, so for people who are big chili fans they often say it could be hotter, and for people who aren’t they say it’s hot, so it’s nicely in the middle,” before concluding, “People who really like their chilies often say it’s really warm.”

It would be easy to dismiss the new product as a gimmick. However, Trim himself has been quick to point out that he has more noble intentions than just exploiting arachnids. “Our aim for this is to raise awareness of the versatility of spiders and hopefully people will understand a bit more about the amazing biology of spider venom through the medium of chilli,” he revealed. Whether or not he is successful remains to be seen. The project is certainly off to an unusual start.