Pink sauce has gone viral on TikTok. But then it exploded (literally).

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Over the last month, the Miami-based chef has taken over TikTok with his signature product: Pink Sauce. Carly Pia who uses a pen @chef.piipublished a series of videos promoting her homemade condiment, which splattered blatant puddles of dark purple condiment over gyros, fried chicken, french fries and tacos.

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Notorious for being tight-lipped about what her sauce is like, Piya has revealed the biggest internet secret since toast with cinnamon and shrimpearning yourself internet fame (or infamy, depending on how you look at it).

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Before Pink Sauce, Pia had less than 1,000 followers on TikTok, but now she has over 80,000 followers and 3 million likes. For anyone selling a product on TikTok, going viral may seem like a dream, but for this TikToker, it has become more of a nightmare.

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

Recipe for disaster

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“What would you do if you were in my place?” Pia said on her live broadcast. “Would you just crawl into a corner and hide?”

A single mother of two, Pii says she has been a private chef for four years. Before TikTok, she posted dozens YouTube videos between 2018 and 2020, which ranged from mukbang videos for weight loss vlogs in which she followed fad diets with dubious nutritional support. The pink sauce fiasco began about a month ago when Pii shared her homemade hot pink concoction on her small TikTok account. As the chef quickly racked up millions of views on the platform, far ahead of her decades-old YouTube channel, she made the decision to bottle and sell Pink Sauce for $20 a bottle.

Prices aside, her new followers have noticed that some key details are missing: what does it taste like, what is it made of, and why is it pink? She even advertised her supposed health benefits without revealing the ingredients.

“Honestly, he has his own taste,” Pius said. on TikTok. “If you want to try it, buy it.”

The mystery took TikTokers by storm, with the #pinksauce hashtag hitting over 80 million views. Many TikTokers wanted to support Pia and see the black female creator succeed, but the spread of the sauce has been so chaotic that it has become difficult for her rapidly growing audience to give her the benefit of the doubt.

As she prepared to list the pink sauce for sale on her website, she still didn’t reveal the source of its colorful hue – and, even stranger, viewers noticed that in every video she posted, the hue and consistency of the sauce seemed to change.

viral tik tok pink sauce

Image credits: @chef.pii on TikTok

“The color hasn’t changed, just the lighting,” she said. said on another TikTok. Later in her live video, she clarified that the hotter pink sauce from her earlier videos was a prototype, not a product she was mailing (make it what you will).

When Pii finally revealed the ingredients for her pink sauce before putting it up for sale, we were left with more questions than answers. According to graphic arts on her website, the sauce gets its pink color from dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, which grows naturally with a dark purple pigment. While the fruit has a mild flavor, some tasters described the sauce as a sweet ranch, which makes sense given the rest of the ingredients on her chart: sunflower oil, honey, chili and garlic.

But then we get to nutrition labels. TikTokers pointed out that the nutrition facts just don’t add up – if there were 444 servings of one tablespoon of 90 calories each in a bottle, there would be almost 40,000 calories in the bottle, which doesn’t make mathematical sense.

“There was a mistake on our nutritional information label and now they are trying to carry it and they are saying that the nutritional information is falsified due to a typo,” Pius told reporters. daily point. “No one will receive a bottle with a broken label. Almost everything had to be redone. But business is business.”

But the portion size confusion wasn’t the only problem. In addition to misspelling the word “vinegar”, the label states that the product, which is sold unrefrigerated and without storage instructions, contains milk. Once again, she didn’t clarify until she filmed her live video that she apparently uses milk powder and pitaya, which are both shelf-stable.

The most dramatic moment in the history of Pink Sauce came after about two weeks ago in packaging similar to a plastic bag. Of course, pink sauce exploded on the way, making a stinking mess.

Chef Pia recognized damaged packages earlier this week and said only 50 customers received poorly packaged goods. She said she is sending any affected customer who contacts her a new sauce, and now the packages are being delivered to boxes (which, of course, are bright pink).

Complicated food makers territory

After exploding packageserroneous nutrition labels and general confusion about what people even eat, Chef Piya is today’s “protagonist” of the internet, which is generally not a good thing.

“It’s a small business that’s growing very, very fast,” Chef Pii said in an interview. apology on TikTok.

Virality on TikTok is now so normalized that Pink Sauce’s temporary cultural omnipresence doesn’t make it interesting. But this very public failure of a creator’s attempt to build a food business reflects the great struggles of both food startups and creator products.

At some point, the story of the rose sauce went beyond what Pii could control. BUT meme account over 100,000 Twitter followers echoed the hospital IV meme, adding the caption “DO NOT EAT TIKTOK ROSE SAUCE”. Such posts unwittingly caused rumors that people ended up in the hospital because of her sauce, but we have not seen any evidence to confirm that this is true. One user posted video on TikTok (their only upload) claiming he is in the hospital after eating the product, but TechCrunch was unable to verify these claims.

As dubious information circulates on TikTok like a phone game, it’s hard to tell fact from fiction, but it’s undeniably true that Pii made some mistakes. She admitted to printing the wrong nutrition labels and accidentally mailing Pink Sauce in a package that caused it to explode in transit. But is she a master con artist, or is she an aspiring entrepreneur who makes a few big public mistakes and then falls prey to a dark human desire to dunk the common victim until they disappear from the Internet? Would the Internet be so upset if a white person was the author of the pink sauce? Who can say.

The pink sauce scare is not the first of its kind on social media. Earlier this year, $25 homemade “sunflower soup” also went viral on TikTok to… pretty mixed reviews. Now, the sunflower soup creator’s TikTok account appears to have been deleted.

It’s only natural that people are so hesitant about products like Pink Sauce, since even startups backed by Bobby Flay and Gwyneth Paltrow have faced severe repercussions when selling food.

Daily Harvest, a cost-effective plant-based food delivery service more than 1 billion dollarsrecently recalled its French Lentil and Leek Crumbles product after hundreds customers reported serious disease after meal. Luke Pearson, the influencer who received the PR package from the company, was supposed to gallbladder removed after several weeks of illness. Abigail Silverman, digital creative director of Cosmopolitan, who also received the PR package, posted viral tiktok detailing her extensive medical problems and hospital visits after eating lentils. Several clients on Reddit have reported similar symptomssending them to the ER.

Really similar to Theranos. Where is their food prepared? The ingredients are made by farmers, but who REALLY MAKE AND PACKAGE THE FOOD??” one client wrote on reddit. This week’s daily harvest announced this tar flour, which they say is not found in any of their other dishes, has caused a problem.

Even if a startup doesn’t send people to the hospital, one wrong move could cause irreparable damage to the company (and innocent consumers), making it even more difficult for home-cooked companies to operate.

Last year, Andreessen Horowitz led the Serie A round with $20 million in prize money. chief, a marketplace for home cooks. Chef is especially popular with international clients who want to enjoy the taste of home from a chef who shares their heritage. Even though Chef sent home cooks through 150 onboarding steps, he still has to deal with legal issues related to their business. Each state has different home food laws that govern the sale of home cooked food. In states like California, the finer points of the law can range from county. E-commerce platform for independent chefs, Castiron also attracted venture financing last year. Castiron originated like many states. made it easier in the era of the pandemic in order to legally run an independent food business, but the platform still has to make sure its partners comply with their local laws.

It’s even more difficult for small food businesses to operate as an independent creator, as TikTokers generally don’t have the luxury of venture capital funding to help them navigate such difficult legal and ethical territory. Some big social stars such as mr beast, Emma Chamberlain as well as Green brothers have launched their own ghost kitchens and coffee business, but these creators are reputable enough to have the resources to properly launch such a business. An unknown chef in Miami is not trustworthy.

Even when you remove the element of selling a product that people put into their real bodies, we’ve seen some pretty memorable social media influencer business explosions. Think Caroline Calloway. stone jar crisis? Now startups like cobalt as well as Pietra make a profit by helping creators launch their own products, but unfortunately the Calloway public disputes it takes more than just a business partner to solve.

Despite focused online vitriol, Pius does not give up. She said the product is in lab testing, made in means and follows FDA standards. Once it passes, she wants to try placing the product in stores. She also stated on her account that she sent out over 1,000 orders this week alone.

So what is the moral of this story? Maybe artificial food coloring isn’t so bad after all.

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