You love your food spicy hot, right? Well, we know you do. But, not everyone is super excited to be presented with a new bottle of hot sauce. We think it’s strange, but, there are still a lot of people that don’t love spicy foods. It’s not that strange though. According to Paul Rozin, people grow to like certain foods, and chilies are one of those foods. And, he should know. He’s a cultural psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, and he’s studied food attitudes and cultural norms for decades.
What’s the Key to Loving Spicy Foods
If there are tastes that people don’t naturally enjoy or crave, what’s the secret to growing love of new food? Well, according to Mr. Rozin, we can largely chalk it up to exposure. Yep, that’s it. The more of a food that you eat, the more you’ll grow to enjoy it. That works with spicy foods and even bitter drinks like coffee and beer. You probably didn’t reach for these when you were ten years old now, but how likely are you to turn them down now?
When it comes to spicy foods, there are six-year-olds that can stomach chilies better than thirty-year-old Americans. In Mexico, for example, children as young as five are into their spicy foods and sauces. How does that happen? Pure exposure. They have to eat it because that’s what’s going around and after a while, they learn to love it.
Animals Don’t Love Spicy Foods
Humans are pretty unique when it comes to developing a desire for foods they used to detest. Through the course of Rozin’s research, he discovered that even in areas where five-year-olds were choosing spicy foods, the local animals would still opt for bland foods when given the choice. The same holds through in laboratory settings. Researchers continue to prove the theory that animals don’t like spicy foods.
So, why do humans opt to develop a love of spicy foods and bitter beverages? Rozin has a theory he calls “benign masochism.” Essentially, if a food or beverage doesn’t actually harm us but isn’t something we naturally enjoy, we’ll keep at it because of the pleasure in that pain. It may seem a little crazy at first, but it does explain the continued desperation for hotter hot sauces and super spicy foods.
What Does This Mean for Chili Heads?
On the most basic level, Rozin’s research explains why you love spicy foods. But there’s something hidden in there that you’ll learn to love. Now you can feel confident that your spouse or your friends are actually going to come around to the chili head lifestyle. All you need to do is keep exposing your loved ones to Mad Dog spiked spicy foods. There’s still no point trying to convince Fido, but would you really waste your best hot sauce on him? (We hope not anyhow!)