FDA approved? Viral Pink Sauce hits Walmart shelves. Here’s where to find it in SoCal
The viral pink goop that had the internet feeling saucy can now be found at Walmarts across the country, including here in Southern California. From now until July, fans and foes of the sauce alike can find it on shelves at Walmart locations in South Gate, Compton, Hawthorne, Torrance, Irvine, Santa Ana, Orange, Anaheim, Rosemead, Pico Rivera and Downey.
Private chef and Miami-based creator Chef Pii, whose real name is Veronica Shaw, went viral last summer on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram after introducing her sauce to the public. While the blush-colored condiment sold out within days, Pii received backlash from some customers who reported unfulfilled orders, inconsistencies in color and questions about ingredients and labeling.
“I wanted a unique sauce. I wanted something that tasted like nothing else, but also to have a natural bright color, and I was able to accomplish that. And, you know, I believe that’s why the world became so curious about the product,” Pii said in an interview Wednesday. “Pii” is a shortened version of her childhood nickname — you guessed it — Piink.
Despite the hurdles, food product company Dave’s Gourmet took Pii under its wing in August to further develop, produce and distribute the dragon fruit-based sauce. David Neuman, president and CEO of the company, said he saw the controversy as an opportunity for Dave’s Gourmet to innovate its brand while also successfully supporting a budding food entrepreneur.
With her Pink Sauce sold out despite online concerns and criticism, a private chef based in Miami is defending her viral mystery condiment.
“It’s a Willy Wonka-meets-Cinderella type of story. You know, mad scientist with an idea figures out how to get that product made and sold nationally and comes out smelling like a rose even though she got really beat up by people by not being able to fill the orders or not having the knowledge to make the product commercially,” Neuman said.
Their partnership with Walmart had been in the works since the summer.
Pii, who stood firmly behind her product, had only two conditions when the company approached her: that the color remain natural and that the flavor profile — described as a sweet and sour sauce — remain the same. In order to make the product safe and scalable for mass consumption, Dave’s Gourmet had to alter the recipe and packaging method.
Initial ingredients included water, sunflower seed oil, raw honey, distilled vinegar, garlic, pitaya, pink Himalayan sea salt and less than 2% dried spices, lemon juice, milk and citric acid.
The list now contains the same pitaya (dragon fruit) base with coconut cream, canola oil, onion powder, ranch flavoring and the addition of shelf-safe ingredients and is packaged in a 13-ounce glass bottle with a white top instead of the transparent plastic squirt bottle with the yellow top. The product no longer contains dairy products and is classified as vegan and gluten-free, unlike its first iteration. It has a shelf life of at least 18 months, Neuman said.
Pink Sauce made waves — and lots of fans — on TikTok. Now creator Chef Pii and her new partner say a shelf-safe version will be available this fall.
Chef Pii’s social media accounts have amassed over 154 million video views on TikTok, nearly 2 million video views on Instagram, and the hashtag #pinksauce has over half a billion views on TikTok.
She has attempted to address some consumer concerns through various social posts on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.
The company attributes the early hiccups to a lack of knowledge about the food production and distribution processes but lauds Pii’s social media savvy. (Pii raised eyebrows in a previous Instagram Live, in which a viewer asked whether the product was “FDA approved.” To which she responded “What do you mean, ‘FDA approved’? I don’t sell medical products. The Pink Sauce is not a medical product. The Pink Sauce don’t contribute to your health.”)
“We saw a fellow presenter with a crazy idea that just needed some help from someone willing and whose [sic] been in the food industry long enough to know the ins and outs,” the company said in an Instagram Reel. They assured the sauce was “manufactured under FDA guidelines in [a Safe Quality Food]-certified facility and is shelf-stable.”
The journey has been tumultuous, Pii said, and as a single mother of two, she said the vitriol she was met with online made her fear for her and her sons’ safety.
“Everything is still kind of surreal. But it’s very real. We’ve been working very hard for the pink sauce to come out so soon in 4,300 stores. I mean, it’s crazy,” she said. “More than anything, I have a smile on my face every day. I wake up and I do what I have to do to better myself as a person and a businesswoman because there’s somebody else watching me, and I’m giving someone else hope. That’s the biggest gift.”
Still working as a private chef, Pii said she plans to host courses on culinary creativity to inspire others to build what she was able to accomplish. Readers can find Pink Sauce at local Walmarts at davesgourmet.com/pages/store-locator.
Times staff writer Christie D’Zurilla contributed to this report.
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