DC’s signature condiment has really made its way to the big leagues now. Beginning this week, fried chicken chain KFC is offering mumbo sauce from local company Capital City at 11 locations across Maryland, along with locations in Dallas and Atlanta. It is not actually available in DC, where KFC no longer operates any restaurants.
Though its exact origins are up for debate, the sweet-tangy sauce has been a staple of DC’s Black food culture and the area’s chicken wing and Chinese carryout shops for decades. In more recent years, it’s evolved into a mainstream product available at Walmart or Giant and riffed on by top chefs.
In 2011, DC native Arsha Jones and her late husband Charles Jones founded Capital City Mambo Sauce to bottle up the cult classic and make it more widely available. (They call it “mambo” sauce rather than “mumbo” after a lawsuit several years ago with Chicago’s Select Brands, which had trademarked the name in 1958.) Their multi-million dollar business now supplies most major grocery chains plus a wide range of restaurants in the DC area and far beyond.
You can try Capital City’s “sweet hot” recipe at KFC for a limited time with a chicken sandwich combo, four-piece tenders combo meal, or two-piece breast and wing combo meal. You can also add it onto other menu items for a small charge.