That's it, we're making Donkey Sauce

Illustration for article titled That's it, we're making Donkey Sauce
Photo: Desiree Navarro/WireImage, biffspandex, Peter Bischoff (Getty Images), Kevin Pang

Take a look at this graph below:

Google Trends
Google Trends

See that sharp peak? That happened in November 2012, when two magical words entered the American vernacular that sent us Googling to find out what the hell it was.

Donkey Sauce.

From the gravy-crusted lips of one Guy Ramsay Fieri sputtered these two words that would be mocked and celebrated the world over. It is a Fieri-concocted condiment he would slather on burgers and fries, but its most enduring quality is it’s a work of branding genius. An Madison Avenue ad executive couldn’t have come up with a more enduring name (it came from a Carnival Cruise kitchen colleague of Fieri’s, it turns out). Donkey Sauce has everything: A hard ‘K’ consonant sound that many funny-sounding words share, a vaguely disgusting tone, cartoon whimsy, intrigue. Would you like Donkey Sauce with those chicken tenders? No? Are you sure? Yeah, that’s what I thought, now open wide...

Sure, it’s just aioli. But just calling it Donkey Sauce makes a difference. It’s a compelling framing device. If I dip frites into aioli and wash it down with a Flemish red from Rodenbach, I’m just some Belgian fuck. Now, tater tots + Donkey Sauce + Pabst Blue Ribbon involve the same three base components, but all of a sudden, I’m a living failure pile in a sadness bowl. And that’s no pejorative to me.

So, whaddya say, let’s not make aioli tonight. Let’s frost those tips, light some votive candles, put on Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, and come make Donkey Sauce with me.

Illustration for article titled That's it, we're making Donkey Sauce
Photo: Kevin Pang

Guy Fieri’s Donkey Sauce (adapted by The Takeout)

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. yellow mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fireworks manufactured in China

Take six cloves of unpeeled garlic and wrap them snugly in a foil package. Place into an oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit and roast for 30 minutes or until garlic becomes soft. Carefully squeeze the softened garlic out, discarding the peels, and add to a food processor (we use the Magic Bullet blender) along with mayo, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, mustard, a pinch of salt and lots of cracked pepper. Blend until well incorporated. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed, then chill in fridge to let flavors develop. Serve with fried foods, burgers, fries, hot dogs, shrimp, grilled cheese sandwiches, with fireworks exploding behind you.


Kevin Pang was the founding editor of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace.


Fake Trivia

I heard an interview with Fieri where he said of donkey sauce, “Look, I know it’s aioli, you know it’s aioli.” But if he wants to get middle America to try it, they won’t try it if he calls it “aioli”. By giving it a silly name, he’s branding it as something people in the Midwest will eat. It’s easy to laugh at people who only go to Applebee’s or Fuddrucker’s, but honestly in a lot of the country places like that are your only options.

Fieri gets a lot of flak for some of his endeavors, but really he’s trying to bring better food to a “steak and potatoes” crowd that will often fear anything different or spicy. To do that, he has to speak their language.