What’s Up With the Pedro and Vinny’s Hot Sauce Contest?

Vendor John Rider has big plans for his homemade mango-habanero hot sauce.

While the District fought for voting rights on the Hill in recent weeks, a less publicized voting campaign was taking place downtown. At the corner of 15th and K streets, Pedro and Vinny’s burrito cart proprietor John Rider, who we profiled in our May issue, took name suggestions for his homemade mango-habanero hot sauce on a yellow poster board posted outside the cart. As we reported back in February, Rider got the thumbs-up from a Florida bottling plant to sell his recipe nationally, spawning a Pedro and Vinny's sauce-naming challenge. Over the course of a few weeks, lunchers placed check marks and happy faces next to name ideas while waiting in line. "Burrito Juice" and "Mango-nero" got a few nods here and there but the winner, with over 30 votes, was "Mango Magma," hands down.

Though Rider is already envisioning the label artwork—mango-colored magma flowing from a volcano—he may need to consider runner-up names like "Mango Tango" and "Habango." That’s because as a regular customer pointed out, another "Mango Magma" hot sauce already exists–it’s sold at online retailer Papa Banana. Pedro and Vinny’s customer Sherry Womack, who first suggested the name, convinced co-workers and friends to emphasize "Mango Magma" when ordering in recent weeks. Before that, the community usually referred to it just as the Grey Goose mango sauce– Rider always stores it in the familiar frosted vodka bottle.
Despite the naming fiasco, there's no stopping Rider's quest to bottle the recipe. He began the 15-week bottling process back in January and went through weeks of nutritional testing, which means his sauce should be on grocery store shelves this summer. He envisions a chart-topping favorite that is so popular, he'll need a private processing plant to meet demands. His confidence stems from his clientele's daily requests—they order "Mango Magma" (we'll call it that for now) over nationally-recognized, familiar sauces by Emeril and Tabasco.
So will the label's artwork depict mango-colored magma flowing from a ruptured volcano? We'll see. Rider is placing a phone call this week to the people at "Papa Banana." Either way, he'll dedicate a portion of the label to his K Street community in some form.

Pedro and Vinny’s, 15th and K Sts., NW (south corner of K St.);

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