Hot Sauces: Pleasure in that Pain

Not everyone likes chili peppers and hot sauces.

And, even though we don’t fully understand them, it’s a lot easier to explain why someone wouldn’t like the burn of capsaicin than it is to summarize why you enjoy chilies.

After all, why would you put yourself through that pain? If animals don’t willingly indulge in capsaicin binges, why would you? (Incidentally, this argument does tend to work often: animals don’t smoke, animals sleep when they need to, and such. It doesn’t work for teeth brushing, overeating, and hot sauces. There are also plenty of animals that willingly consume feces, so who knows.)

Humans Seek out Pleasure… and Pain

The first time you add a dash of hot sauce to your meal (and heaven help you if you start with Mad Dog’s hotter sauces), it’ll strike you as a form of torture. Your tongue will tingle (or worse), you’ll begin sweating, and your nose will run. If you made the mistake of adding a super hot sauce, then you probably will exhibit some rather disgusting reactions. Hiccups are one of the easiest to deal with, gagging and drooling don’t tend to go down well in public (though you’ll probably be secretly grateful if someone is there to watch your misery; at least there’s someone to call 911 if needed, right?).

Hot sauce can be downright painful and frightening.

And, as most people can attest, humans tend to do things that make them feel good. You need to work really hard to get someone to do something they don’t want to do (as any parent will attest). No one wants to do things that make them feel bad (outside of the pages of sadistic bestsellers), and let’s face it, super hot sauces can make you feel very bad indeed.

But, for some reason, people have learned to enjoy pain. If a hot sauce burns, people will still take a second bite. When the best seller makes the pain seem sexy, people go out and experiment with it. There is a link between these actions, however feeble it appears at first.

Most people will endure some level of pain in order to experience something pleasurable. Think about it for a moment. As a kid, you would clean your room to get ice cream. You’d work long hours in college in exchange for a paycheck. You cut out double lattes when you wanted to save for a new car. And yes, you will suffer through the pain of super hot sauces for… the high that comes like a one, two punch to the face.

Hot Sauce Can Make You Feel Good

It’s not like pharmacies sell hot sauces (well, not alongside their pain relief offerings), but they do sell capsaicin. There are headache cures and pain relief measures brimming with capsaicin because it diverts pain. It’s quite complex, but our bodies respond to capsaicin in interesting ways.

More than that, you’ll find that after you finish retching (because you were so eager to prove you can handle your food when it’s hotter than hell), you feel good. No, you feel better than that. You can achieve a serious high after consuming capsaicin.

And that’s why you’ll battle through hot sauce pain, just like you cleaned your room for ice cream. It’s just not easy to explain that to people, is it?


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