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Pink Sauce went viral on TikTok. But then it exploded (literally).

Pink Sauce went viral on TikTok. But then it exploded (literally). Image
  • Posted on 22nd Jul, 2022 19:03 PM

For small businesses, internet fame can be a curse, not a blessing.

Over the last month, a chef in Miami has been taking over TikTok with her signature product: pink sauce. Carly Pii, who uses the handle @chef.pii, posted a series of videos promoting her homemade condiment, drizzling egregious pools of deep magenta dressing atop gyros, fried chicken, french fries and tacos.

Notoriously close-lipped about what her sauce even tastes like, Pii spun the biggest internet mystery since cinnamon toast shrimp guy, earning herself internet fame (or infamy, depending on how you look at it).

Before pink sauce, Pii had fewer than 1,000 followers on TikTok, but now she’s racked up over 80,000 followers and 3 million likes. For anyone peddling a product on TikTok, going viral might seem like the dream — but for this TikToker, it’s become more of a nightmare.

“We didn’t get the opportunity like other small businesses to go through trial and error, to learn through our mistakes and recover from them,” Pii said in a live video last night, streaming on her TikTok and YouTube. “We didn’t have that opportunity because we blew up so fast. We went viral so fast.”

A recipe for disaster

“What would you do if y’all was in my shoes?” Pii said in her live video. “Would you just crawl in the corner and hide?”

A single mom with two children, Pii says she has been working as a private chef for four years. Before TikTok, she posted dozens of YouTube videos between 2018 and 2020, which ranged from mukbang videos to weight loss vlogs, in which she followed fad diets with dubious nutritional backing. The pink sauce debacle began about a month ago, when Pii shared her homemade, vibrant pink concoction on her small TikTok account. As the chef swiftly gained millions of views on the platform, far outpacing her years-old YouTube channel, she made the decision to bottle and sell pink sauce for $20 a bottle.

Pricing aside, her new followers noticed that some key details were missing: what does it taste like, what is it made out of, and why is it pink? She even touted its supposed health benefits without revealing the ingredients.

“Honestly, it has its own taste,” Pii said on TikTok. “If you want to taste it, buy it.”

The mystery has enraptured TikTokers, with the #pinksauce hashtag racking up over 80 million views. Many TikTokers wanted to root for Pii and watch a Black female creator succeed — but the roll-out of the sauce was so chaotic that it became hard for her fast-growing audience to give her the benefit of the doubt.

As she prepared to put pink sauce up for sale on her website, she still wouldn’t reveal the source of its colorful hue — and to make matters stranger, viewers noticed that in each video she posted, the shade and consistency of the sauce seemed to change.

viral tiktok pink sauce

Image Credits: @chef.pii on TikTok

“The color didn’t change, just the lighting,” she said in another TikTok. She later elaborated in her live video that the brighter pink sauce from her earlier videos was a prototype, not the product she was mailing out (make of that what you will).

When Pii finally revealed the ingredients of her pink sauce before putting it up for sale, we were left with even more questions than answers. According to a graphic on her website, the sauce got its pink coloring from dragonfruit, also known as pitaya, which grows naturally with a deep magenta pigment. Though the fruit has a mild taste, some testers described the sauce as a sweet ranch, which makes sense given the rest of the ingredients on her graphic: sunflower seed oil, honey, chili and garlic.

But then we get to the nutrition label. TikTokers pointed out that the nutrition facts simply don’t add up — if there were 444 one tablespoon servings in the bottle at 90 calories each, then there would be nearly 40,000 calories in the bottle, which doesn’t make mathematical sense.

“Our nutrition fact label had an error in it and now they’re trying to carry it along and say the nutrition is falsified because there’s a typo,” Pii told the Daily Dot. “No one will receive a bottle that has the messed up label. We had to redo everything pretty much. But business is business.”

But the serving size snafu wasn’t the only issue at play. Aside from the misspelling of “vinegar,” the nutrition label says that the product — which is sold unrefrigerated with no instructions on how to store it — contains milk. Once again, she didn’t clarify until making her live video that she is apparently using dried milk and pitaya, which are shelf-stable.

The most dramatic moment in the story of pink sauce came after the first shipments of pink sauce were delivered about two weeks ago in packaging that looks like a plastic bag. Sure enough, the pink sauce exploded in transit, creating a stinky mess.

Pink Sauce went viral on TikTok. But then it exploded (literally). View Story

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