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Hot Chicken Takeover – Unholy Edition – Spiciest Dish in Columbus Series

When Hot Chicken Takeover offers a new level of heat, we’re automatically in.

Last week Hot Chicken Takeover announced their latest entry in their “Heat Seeker’s Club,” an “Unholy” level of heat that leverages ghost peppers along with their traditional cayenne blend. We tried their last Heat Seeker’s Club chicken which we dubbed “Unholiest,” but were a little let down because it was just four times the standard cayenne density than their “Holy” heat level. The addition of ghost peppers had us excited, so we wandered to the Clintonville drive through to see whether the new entry would surpass the original Heat Seeker’s edition.

hot chicken takeover warm and unholy

Warm vs. Unholy, which do you choose?

Have you ever had that moment where you’re very clear on what you need to order, then you order it, and you were confident you ordered a thing and then when you get it home you realize it was never a part of the process? That was me this time around. I forgot the banana pudding. We’ll get to the Unholy in a minute, but we are a banana pudding household and feel that Hot Chicken Takeover has one of the best in the city. In reviewing the order and making my online entry, it completely slipped my mind and I returned banana pudding-less. Sad day, and a very disappointed Lady of the Farm. Always double-check your orders! Making doubly clear here that I am an idiot. Hot Chicken Takeover had nothing to do with my forgetting to order banana pudding.

mac and cheese with ranch at hot chicken takeover

Ranch on mac, what of it?

What does one do when preparing to tackle the spiciest Hot Chicken Takeover chicken yet? By being a good Midwesterner and prepping some mac and cheese with ranch. That’s right, I’m a ranch on mac kind of guy and am unashamed. Try to tell me why it’s a bad combo. Alright, onto the main spicy event.

Looking back, I think I should have just gone boneless breast only. Less song and dance and straight to the fiery point of “this is a piece of chicken that we’ve dragged through Hell’s half-acre to prepare our spiciest chicken yet.” As it was, I opted for the Sandwich, four pieces of bread, slaw, pickles and a big old piece of chicken. Opening the box, there was no immediate whiff of the heat and even leaning in close until my nose was nearly touching the crispiness, the ghost pepper doesn’t pop out. No matter. I ate the pickles and slaw from the sandwich first, getting a preview of the spiciness that awaited. A slight jab of heat, but it took a backseat to the other flavors of the pickles and slaw.

unholy chicken at hot chicken takeover

Ahem, the Unholy will see you now.

Down to just the chicken I took one last read through my will, said goodbye to The Lady of the Farm and charged forth on my journey to Unholy Valhalla. First bite, you’re met on your path by an old friend, the Hot Chicken Takeover cayenne spice blend. Familiar, but slightly different, it joined me. “Wait and seeeeee.” It whispered. Undaunted, I chomped down again, pressuring the Unholy heat to rise. I heard a scurry behind me and as I whipped my head around, I beheld the old friend morphing into an Unholy mess. Gone were the friendly specks of cayenne powder and the gentle red blush of the oil. Before me stood an Unholy demon, with glowing red eyes. The heat began to intensify and the ghost pepper heat I had grown to know in previous lifetimes was covering the inside of my mouth. Tongue, cheeks, teeth (I think), grew warmer.

As I pressed forward, I expected the Unholy presence to continue increasing in size. To my surprise, the glowing red eyes dimmed, the snarl of garbled voices quieted and the shape of the monster reverted back to someone more familiar. More bites in, the heat persisted but didn’t grow to the Unholy level I was expecting. A few pads of under-eye sweat began to form and I could feel a sniffle emerging from my face, but the path was becoming more clear and the journey was going more smoothly than anticipated. Plodding forward, I bid the Unholy presence farewell. Saddened, he didn’t leave, but stood watching as I continued along, shouting something incoherent.

unholy chicken close up from hot chicken takeover

The whole spice mix is excellent, so props to North Market Spice Co. and Hot Chicken Takeover on the blend, but it’s definitely capable of being cranked up. Throughout the beginning of the sandwich I poured ranch on before each next bite, as one does, but held off halfway through to ensure I was getting the full spicy effect. As I worked through the remainder of the sandwich, the whole mouth heat subsided a bit, and the linger was minimal. Nose drip mode was on, but overall I was met with a satisfying spicy experience. Sledding down from the top of the mountain, I did a sweet kickflip, high-fived the smiling demon and came back to my dwelling to consider where this sits in the bigger picture.

It’s a solid level of heat and the ghost pepper is an awesome addition. At the last Heat Seeker’s Club in 2019 I noted, “I asked about kicking it up a bit with some other powders and they seemed open to it,” and that’s exactly what they did with the Unholy. Instead of the heartburn you get from the density of cayenne powder in the Extra Holy or the original 4x Holy, you are left with just the mouth burn of the ghost pepper powder. Again, solid spice mix, and I would 100% get this over the Extra Holy every time if it stayed on as a heat level.

True to Hot Chicken Takeover form, not all experiences will be equal. Take a look at this picture of the bread in our pal The Spicy Frenchman’s box of Unholy Drums.

unholy chicken two by hot chicken takeover

Brutal. He said of the Unholy heat, “RIP my insides” and “my glasses are fogging.” The density of the pepper on that bread is still scary to me, but would likely make our ranking assessment a bit further up the list. Based on my experience and by the level of heat on my chicken, we’re placing Hot Chicken Takeover Unholy Edition at #15, sliding in between Choripan Argentine Grill’s Habanero Sauce and bumping down Thurman’s 183,000 BTU wings. Hot Chicken Takeover is only offering the Unholy level until Sunday, September 27, so be sure to try it out if you are into spicy foods. Just don’t forget the banana pudding.

You can find Hot Chicken Takeover in three locations around Columbus (North Market, Clintonville, and Easton), and one in Cleveland, but remember, the Unholy level is only available through this weekend so go now you spicy adventurer.

Look below for more in our spiciest dish in Columbus series and hit us up if you have any suggestions that are not already on our list!

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