How does North Carolina’s take on New York-style pizza compare to the standard Big Apple slice? That question alone was enough to lure Y&H to the new Fuel Pizza on K Street NW, the first D.C. outpost of the Charlotte-based pizzeria chain.

Then I got distracted by a more burning question (literally): just how “#!^%@< Hot!” are Fuel’s advertised “#!^%@< Hot!” chicken wings? The spicy poultry parts, teased in a recent Washingtonian preview as “a habanero-spiced hot wing that’ll scorch your taste buds,” are a new menu item for Fuel that’s exclusive to the District.

Admittedly, I was a little confused about how to actually order the things. When I made my first visit to the downtown eatery one recent evening, I think I said something like, “I want the wings with the hot sauce spelled indecipherably.” The cashier then yells to the back, “One single order of crazy hot wings!”

Is that what you call ’em?

“During the daytime,” she replies.

How ’bout at night?

“Fucking hot,” she says.

Initial impressions: The gal behind the counter isn’t kidding. The single order contains a total of nine wings. I can manage to eat only two—-coughing upon the very first bite and thankfully having a whole slice of pizza and large fountain drink on hand to douse my blazing tongue in between each one. I have no idea what these wings might register on the Scoville scale, but I can tell you this: the lingering capsaicin sting lasted about an hour.

“You tried that?” replies Zach Current, one of the partners in the new restaurant, when I call later to find out more about the fiery recipe. “That’s hardcore, dude.”

It seems even the co-owner of the place is a little intimidated by the things. “My partners and I love the inferno sauce,” he says, referring to the style of hot sauce located one level of heat below the indecipherably titled version. “We eat it all the time. It’s really hot but you can eat all your wings.”

For the new D.C. location, Current says the proprietors wanted to kick things up a notch. “With some people, it’s like Man v. Food, you know, you want to see how far you can push yourself,” he says.

Current declines to divulge the specific recipe for the molten hot sauce. “I will tell you that we wanted to make it as hot as we could without hurting anybody,” he says.

Has anyone actually been hurt by the things?

“Nah,” he replies. “There’s been a few people, like you, who are like, ‘I can do it,’ and they finish two.”

Is there a record for most #!^%@< Hot! wings consumed in a single seating?

None yet, Current says. However, the restaurant is planning to hold a contest on Super Bowl Sunday to see who, if anyone, can manage to munch the most #!^%@< Hot! wings in 10 minutes.

The contest costs $10 to enter. Current doesn’t say what prize the winning wing-eater might receive. Living to tell the tale is its own reward, I guess.

Photos by Chris Shott