"Pain Is Good." "Death Angel Reaper." "Ass in the Tub."
These are the sort of cartoonishly sadistic names you'll find on hot sauce labels across the country. Add "Tear Gas Ted's" to the list. The jalapeño-tomatillo-garlic hot sauce won't actually burn your eyes or interfere with respiratory function, but it is "extra-spicy" and delicious.
Creator August Winningham began making the hot sauce as a lark. Already well-versed in lacto-fermentation as an employee of the Southeast vegan restaurants Fermenter and Farm Spirit, Winningham had always wanted to start a hot sauce business. One night during Portland's summer of protests—many of which began at Revolution Hall, mere yards from Fermenter—the idea popped into his head.
Tear Gas Ted's isn't a business venture, though. To get a bottle, just give at least $10 to Don't Shoot PDX, then show your receipt at Fermenter.
"I just figured that [would] be a nice little way to bring awareness to the fact that Ted Wheeler is responsible for the way his police force has been acting," Winningham says. "Just to get that image out there in any small way that I can."
A graphic designer friend, Nicole Marsh, provided an art nouveau-inspired label, which features a picture of Wheeler from the night he came down to the front lines of the protests and got gassed himself. "Invest in Community," "Black Lives Matter" and "ACAB" are also on the bottle, along with the sauce's spice level: three gas masks out of five.
First released in August, the first batch of 75 sold out in one weekend, while the second batch, of 125 bottles, is almost gone. That means at least $2,000 raised for Don't Shoot PDX, though Winningham says most people give more than the $10 minimum.
"I think this whole project was just my way to kind of break myself out of the depression that we're all in, with COVID and these fucking protests," he says. "Watching protesters get tear-gassed and beat the shit out of, experiencing that myself a couple of times, and just feeling really overwhelmed and needing to do something, however small."
To get a bottle of Tear Gas Ted's, bring a donation receipt to Fermenter at 1414 SE Morrison St. 11 am-6 pm Wednesday-Saturday. See more at instagram.com/teargasteds_hotsauce.