Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Spicy Wings and Spicier Questions: The Beacon Takes on Hot Ones Challenge

Rachel Choi
Illustration by Rachel Choi

Every Wednesday, Beacon editors gather in the newsroom of 172 Tremont and gobble while editing the weekly paper. From 6 p.m. until sometimes 3 in the morning, we find ourselves shouting at each other and our computers, attempting to grasp the intricacies of Adobe InDesign while meticulously editing stories to the best of our abilities. This week as we toiled away, our collective hunger seemed to intensify with each passing hour, as if our dedication to the paper had infused our souls with a single profound craving: chicken wings.

One fateful night, our cries and dreams were answered一the gates of heaven swung wide open as Sean Evans graced Boston with the heavenly gift of chicken through Grubhub. The aroma of these succulent wings filled the air of the newsroom, transcending the chaos, and for a brief moment, our editing session transformed into a communal feast where the only competition was over who could devour the most wings.

There have been wings since the Chinese introduction of chickens into the Western world. Since the advent of written history, there have been interviews. No one had thought to combine the two. No one, that is, until chicken interview luminary Sean Evans created his now-famous “Hot Ones” YouTube talk show, in which he sits down with celebrities and interviews them over progressing platters of piquant poultry.

Hot Ones, a show renowned for its celebrity interviews, invited the Berkeley Beacon, Emerson’s student-run publication, to take on the spicy challenge this Wednesday night. In front of the camera, the paper’s team endured the scorching heat while tackling a box of the signature “ones.” This unique encounter led to the revelation of secrets and some stomach-churning moments. It showcased that at the core of journalism lies the skill of conducting an engaging interview, and any adept interviewer must be prepared to turn up the heat.

Usually before eating spicy food, there’s apprehension. Part of the appeal of the series is the reaction moment—it’s almost like the food is only eaten for publicity, in this case, these wings are a catalyst. Viewers are expecting a cinematic, “Hot Ones” style interview with the one and only Sean Evans, and at this point, his chicken is as much of a celebrity as he is. 

As fans, this held significant meaning for us because there’s a part of us that genuinely wants to believe in him. Here we see bug-eyed expressions twisted in agony, eyes welling up with tears, gleaming with sweat—frozen in a thumbnail, now accompanied by the faces of Beacon. It’s quite a spectacle, and we’re not just consuming food; we’re putting on a performance. After all, why bother taking a selfie with your meal when you can feature it in your promotional video interview?

The packaging was unquestionably intentional—an elegant black box adorned with a discreet logo. Nevertheless, it posed a challenge for the team to discern that we were actually indulging in spicy chicken.

The taste of Chili Maple resembled that of a sweetened wing. Those minute chili specks occasionally caught between your teeth did offer a subtle touch of spiciness, albeit it remained relatively mild. It was also the ideal starter wing, focused more on the “Chili” than the “Maple” but still containing a kick that showed you what to expect when devouring the more intense “Hot Ones” sauces. In a sense, it was the “calm before the storm” that was to overtake the Beacon newsroom on a Wednesday night—more intense than the typical storm of stress associated with the production of a weekly paper.

Garlic Fresno emerged as the unanimous favorite flavor among our staff. It was the epitome of flavorful wings, striking a perfect balance with its infusion of garlic and Parmesan—enough to leave your breath tinged but not overpowering. For those with a higher spice tolerance, this flavor was particularly exhilarating, beginning on a milder note and culminating in a subtle kick towards the end.

Los Calientes Rojo, a “Hot Ones” staple, was relished by most of our staff members, many of whom had grown overly confident after experiencing Garlic Fresno. However, for individuals like our Editor-in-Chief, Shannon Garrido, who can’t handle even a whiff of a spicy wing, this flavor proved hot enough to induce bouts of sniffles and coughing fits.

For those who savor the blend of habanero with a hint of applewood, we highly recommend Los Calientes. It takes you by surprise, beginning with a subtle citrus taste that quickly dissipates as the heat intensifies, leaving you almost forgetting how it tasted at the start.

All in all, the Berkeley Beacon is endlessly grateful to “First We Feast” and Buzzfeed for the opportunity to put some of their “Hot Ones” flavors to the test. Each wing, fry, and sandwich powered us editors through the night and kept us on our toes. They were the perfect addition to our Wednesday night, and we’d welcome the opportunity for more—even if it means being grilled by the head-scratching questions of our colleagues.

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