Snacks Changing Perceptions of Spicy Foods

You’ve seen a lot of hotter food entering the market and the menus of your favorite restaurants. That’s hardly a secret. But, have you taken any time to look at the growing trend of snack foods that incorporate sweet and spicy flavors?

There are a lot of options. Doritos, for example, have a Spicy Sweet Chili flavor, and you’ll find plenty of mango salsas mixed with hot peppers for dipping. Take a look at the beef jerky aisle next time you’re at the grocery store; you’ll find a similar trend beginning to develop.

This isn’t a mistake; there is a good reason for this blend of sweet and spicy.

Why Sweet Mixed with Spicy Works

Take a look at mango habanero salsa for a moment. The sweetness of the mango allows you to taste the habanero chili peppers better. While capsaicin itself doesn’t have a flavor, it actually dampens your ability to taste bitter flavors. If you don’t add in some form of sweet – or a combination of other flavors – a dish with just heat will fall flat.

Sweet flavors complement spicy heat remarkably well. It makes sense then to add in as much sweet as you can handle so that you can taste the peppers that deliver the heat. Just generally, it makes food more exciting and gives your tongue flavors to play with.

What This Means for Hot-Sauce Experimenters

Once people pick up a bag of sweet and spicy chips, they may start to realize that they don’t mind spicy heat. For many, this combination is the first introduction to chili peppers and hot sauce. And, it’s often a push to begin experimenting with hotter foods.

Understanding the way sweet and spicy flavors work together can make it easier for newbies to experiment in the kitchen – and perhaps a mango salsa is the best place to start. You could also include a few chilies in a chicken dish coated with apricot jam. It’s really almost as easy as that.

If you’ve never cooked with chili peppers or hot sauces, you may want to take a look at your favorite dishes that already have a sweet flavor. Think about sweet and sour chicken or creating a tapas meal with a complete blend of flavors that you can sense (consider hummus, roasted sweet peppers, Parma ham, and a spicy pesto).

And, Don’t Forget….

…to keep checking the snack aisles in the grocery store. There will be a lot of new flavor combinations and snacks hitting the shelves over the next few years. You never know who you’ll win over with a fantastic new snack (or meal).


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