A good BBQ sauce is a wonderful thing. However, it’s not something I tend to use all that much (particularly in the winter). So, what I do have tends to sit around on shelves or in the fridge for a while. Fia had gotten a few jars of Hick Lickin’ Good Mango Chipolte BBQ Sauce (produced by Kettle Cove Foods), and we decided to use it in a BBQ meatloaf we recently made. I figured it was the perfect opportunity to review the sauce, and well, here we are.
Price: All of the Hick Lickin’ Good sauces retail at a hair under $4.00 (I believe the stores around us in Maine sell them for about $3.79). For a 17.5 ounce jar, that isn’t a bad price – it sort of rides the line between “I’ll only buy this if I know I like the flavor” and “what the hell – let’s give it a shot.” For comparison, you can get a 40 ounce bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s for $3.42 at Wal-Mart. But this is a locally produced product made by a smaller company, so the price point makes sense when taken in that light.
Taste/Texture: As soon as I tasted a little of this sauce from the jar, I knew that it was going to be a winner in my book: It’s sweet without being cloying, with just enough smoke, and a nice kick from the peppers. The taste of the mangoes didn’t come through that strongly, but it was a nice enough addition – more like a general fruitiness than a specific flavor. Texture-wise, this is a very thin sauce. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (and in fact, it speaks to fewer binders and gums in the ingredient list) – it just means that it doesn’t cling to meat as well, and that that you’ll probably need to brush it on several times if you’re grilling. The only drawback I encountered was a tendency for the sauce to form a little pasty ring around the inside of the bottle opening. Finally, the red pepper flakes sprinkled throughout were unnecessary (though the ingredient list seems to suggest that they are in fact the source of the “chipotle” flavor), but provide a little visual appeal.
Presentation: I am not a fan of kitschy design. Give me a classy product package over a tactless one any day. Unfortunately, a lot of the local, “home-spun” food products for sale in Maine go the kitschy route – and the Hick Lickin’ Good sauces are no exception. So, what have we got here? A regular old glass jar (I can’t fault them for going the standard route, but it doesn’t add to the appeal) with a bright orange label and some comic-style typography (and yes – they misspelled “chipotle” as “chipolte”). The main focus of the label is a black and white photograph of a man dressed in what I can only assume is supposed to be “hick” fashion, making a silly face. Sauce makers, let me give you a tip: if you want me to feel good about buying your product, don’t put a picture of a guy making a face next to the word “lick” – particularly when the product name makes it sound like the thing I’m licking is the guy. That’s just weird.
Would I buy it again? Like I said, I don’t use BBQ sauce all that often. I liked Hick Lickin’ Good Mango Chipolte BBQ Sauce quite a bit, but because of the price and lack of shelf appeal, I’ll probably find myself buying another variety to sample (or falling back on an old standby) before I pick this one up again.
Rating: 3/5 Forks