secret sauce

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English[edit]

Noun[edit]

secret sauce (countable and uncountable, plural secret sauces)

  1. A sauce used in cooking or as a condiment, the ingredients of which are kept secret.
    • 1994 July 21, Faye Fiore, “Congress relishes another franking privilege: Meat lobby puts on the dog with exclusive luncheon for lawmakers – experts on pork”, in Los Angeles Times[1]:
      Congressmen gleefully wolfed down every imaginable version of the hot dog – smoked kielbasas, jumbo grillers, Big & Juicy's, kosher dogs and spiced dogs – topped with every imaginable condiment – hot mustard, sweet mustard, jalapenos, spaghetti sauce, regular relish, corn relish, maple syrup salsa and the secret sauce of Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.). ("If I told you the recipe," an aide explained, "I'd have to shoot you.")
    • 1996, Michael Craig Budden, Protecting Trade Secrets under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act: Practical Advice for Executives, Westport, Conn.: Quorum Books, →ISBN, page 20:
      It was reported that the recipes for the secret sauce and grinder sandwiches were proprietary, known only to the current president of the corporation and the former owner of the restaurant.
    • 1997, Todd Wilbur, Top Secret Restaurant Recipes: Creating Kitchen Clones from America's Favorite Restaurant Chains, New York, N.Y.: Plume, →ISBN, page 58:
      Combine the mayonnaise, relish, and tomato sauce in a small cup or bowl. This is the "secret sauce."
    1. Synonym of special sauce
      1. burger sauce
  2. (figuratively, informal) A secret idea or plan; a crucial element of something that makes it unique or functional.
    • 2012 September 2, Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event – Boulder, CO: University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder, Colorado”, in (Please provide the book title or journal name)[2], White House Press Office:
      And then, there was a lot of talk about "hard truths" and "bold choices," but the interesting thing was nobody ever bothered to tell us what they were. And when Governor [Mitt] Romney finally had a chance to reveal the secret sauce, he did not offer a single new idea. It was just retreads of the same old policies we've been hearing for decades, the same policies that have been sticking it to the middle class for years.
    • 2014 September 7, Jad Mouwad, “Airlines take the bump out of turbulence [print version: Airlines taking bumps out of turbulence, International New York Times, 9 September 2014, p. 15]”, in The New York Times[3]:
      Now, pilots download detailed flight plans and weather reports full of intricate graphics onto tablet devices. [] "The secret sauce is how you use the information," said Tim Campbell, the senior vice president for air operations at American Airlines. "Fundamentally, it's only a forecast and it's still weather."