Whataburger's Lack Of Hot Sauce Is An Insult To Texas

If you're not familiar with Whataburger, you must live pretty far from Texas. The burger chain is basically the distilled essence of the Lone Star State, and locals are incredibly passionate about it. When I lived in Austin, the late-night, after-bar crowds would pile into the city's Whataburger drive-thrus around 2 a.m., often creating lines more than 20 cars long. Sure, the Burger King next door might not have any line at all, but for Texans, it's worth it to wait for Whataburger.

Besides Whataburger, Texas is also known for its love of spicy food. Real Texas chili con carne is often packed with heat, and many Tex-Mex dishes are enlivened with jalapeños, serranos, and zesty salsas. Local hot sauce brand Yellowbird (which graced the tables of a large number of the restaurants I ate at in Austin) makes a habañero sauce that will just about smack your tongue off. Houston-born legend Beyoncé famously carries hot sauce in her bag at all times.

And yet, if you ask for hot sauce at Whataburger, you will leave empty-handed. How can the iconic fast food restaurant representing one of America's most spice-loving states have such a glaring omission on its menu? I don't know, but I can complain about it, and maybe I can convince the company to see the error of its ways.

Whataburger makes its own special condiments, so why not hot sauce?

The lack of hot sauce is even more galling considering that Whataburger makes many of its own condiments, including ones that have a little kick. You can order salsa verde or picante sauce with your breakfast taquitos. If you're bored of regular ranch, you can kick it up a notch with jalapeño ranch. The chain's spicy ketchup is delicious, and I don't know any other fast food place with a similar sauce offering. Whataburger even made a special limited-edition version of its spicy ketchup that contained an arbol and piquin pepper-based hot sauce. There's already hot sauce in the ketchup! Why can't Whataburger just sell me the hot sauce by itself?

Time and time again, when I have asked friendly Whataburger employees for hot sauce, they have offered me picante sauce instead. While picante may mean "spicy" in Spanish, don't let the name fool you; Whataburger's picante sauce is basically thin, runny tomato salsa. It doesn't have enough spice in it to scare a baby, and it sure doesn't scratch my hot sauce itch. I usually order a side of pickled jalapeños to give me the vinegary kick I'm looking for, but they only taste good with some of the menu. I love jalapeño slices on a burger, but they're a little weird with breakfast food.

Many of Whataburger's menu items need hot sauce to be at their best

Whataburger's Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit is one of the most beloved items on the menu, and deservedly so. It's all killer, no filler: a fried chicken tender slather in copious amounts of honey butter and tucked into one of the chain's gloriously fluffy biscuits. The sandwich is a part of the chain's breakfast menu, which is ingeniously served between 11 p.m. and 11 a.m. to accommodate late-night diners. I have never eaten a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit for breakfast, but I've eaten an immense number at 3 a.m. before passing out. Everything is perfect about the sandwich — except that it desperately needs hot sauce. The chicken's breading and the biscuit are both very starchy, and the honey butter has no acidity. The vinegar in hot sauce cuts through all the starch and fat, and I always like a little spice with my fried chicken.

Because of Whataburger's absurd hot sauce boycott, I always have to order the Honey Butter Biscuit and then take it home to season it to my liking. The same goes for all the other breakfast sandwiches, the biscuits and gravy, and the chicken strips with Texas toast. That's all diner food, and what do you do if you walk into a diner with no hot sauce on the table? You turn around and walk right on out of there.

Other Southern-born chains offer hot sauce packets

Hot sauce, especially vinegary, fermented Louisiana-style hot sauce, has a crucial role in the culinary history of the South. It was born in the region, and at least for my spice-loving palate, many Southern dishes just don't taste right without a little sprinkle of the hot stuff on top. And though you might be inclined to give Whataburger a pass for not serving hot sauce because it's a fast food place, other fast food chains from the South have no problem giving their customers what they crave.

Popeyes already seasons its fried chicken with a fair amount of spice, but it knows some people just can't get enough heat, so it also offers packets of Louisiana brand hot sauce. KFC does even better by making its own proprietary hot sauce packets. Judging by the ingredients (aged cayenne peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, and more), KFC's custom blend is a classic Tabasco-like recipe.

Now the ball's in your court, Whataburger. Are you going to let KFC and Popeyes out-spice you by continuing to refuse to offer hot sauce packets? You clearly know how much Texans crave heat considering that you make spicy versions of every other condiment. I want to eat my drive-thru order in my car in the parking lot and not have to drive all the way home (or do the Beyoncé thing and keep emergency hot sauce with me) to get the spicy taste all Texans deserve.