Clinton takes ‘hot sauce’ heat, but might be fireproof

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Hillary Clinton is facing a spicy new round of “pandering” accusations after telling the hosts of a hip-hop/R&B station the one item she’s always got on her is … hot sauce.

The thing is, the Democratic presidential front-runner, whose struggles to fit in with ordinary voters have been the stuff of “SNL” parody virtually since the start of the campaign, has a fiery firewall against the criticism this time.

Clinton apparently does carry hot sauce with her. At least, she’s mildly obsessed with the condiment, if past accounts of the former first family’s eating habits are to be believed.

The Clinton campaign told TIME she’s lately been carrying a brand of hot sauce known as Ninja Squirrel.

Still, Clinton raised eyebrows when she discussed her love of hot sauce while chatting Monday with the hosts of “The Breakfast Club,” a radio show on New York’s 105.1 FM. She named the condiment when asked what item she always carries.

“Really?” an incredulous host asked.

The hosts immediately suggested she was dropping a reference to Beyoncé’s “Formation” and its “hot sauce in my bag” lyrics. Host Charlamagne Tha God counseled, “Listen, I just want you to know, people are going to see this and say ‘okay she’s pandering to black people again.’”

They all chuckled and Clinton answered: “Okay -- is it working?”

Republican candidate Donald Trump, speaking Tuesday morning with Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” charged that’s exactly what she was doing.

“She carries hot sauce, like I carry hot sauce … it’s just so phony and so pandering,” he said.

This isn't the first time Clinton's love of spicy foods, though, has come up.

According a recent Associated Press story on her eating habits, Clinton had a collection of more than 100 hot sauces when she was at the White House. And she for years has touted the health benefits of eating hot peppers, apparently raw.

She said in the radio interview, conducted ahead of Tuesday’s New York Democratic primary, that she “seriously” has been consuming a lot of hot sauce, as well as raw peppers.

“I think it keeps my immune system strong,” she said.

An article in quipped that either Clinton is telling the truth – or over the years “she’s been building an elaborate long con over hot sauce.”