The Fire Flavor Explosion!

Taco Bell recently released new, hotter menu items.

Their Daredevil Loaded Grillers are topping the heat index – especially the Ghost Pepper offering. And, if you’ve pulled into any fast food restaurant over the past couple of years, you’ll know Taco Bell isn’t alone in their move towards spicier fast food fire flavor explosion. Ghost pepper fries and (supposedly) super spicy chicken sandwiches continue to appear on menus across the country.

Super hot flavors aren’t a surprise. More Americans are eating hotter menu items than ever before.

In 2013, Technomic (a restaurant market research firm) released a Consumer Flavor Trend Report. One of the most remarked findings was the number of Americans prefer spicy hot foods and condiments. In that year, 54% declared their preference for hotter items. That’s up from 48% in 2011 and 46% in 2009. Not only is the preference growing, but it appears to be picking up speed.

Unsurprisingly, more than 60% of 18 to 34-year-olds claim to love their food hot and spicy. But, growing numbers wasn’t limited to this demographic.

Now, a Kalsec study performed in January of this year reveals 80% of surveyed Americans reported their preference for hotter and spicier foods. Granted, they only surveyed 1300 people, but their findings dove a little deeper than you might expect. According to their information, 20% of respondents claim they’re eating hotter food than they were a year ago, and an incredible 61% report that they like their foods with medium to high heat levels.

Multi-faceted Reasons for Growth

There are many reasons for the growth in demand for hotter flavors. One of the most common suggestions is the greater availability of international cuisines. Millennials, more than any other generation, have experience with ethnic foods, including new Asian and Hispanic options. And, of course, the Hispanic population is the fastest-growing segment in the country.

But, you really don’t need to travel far to find newer, hotter flavors. After all, Food Genius, a market research firm, found that hotter menu items expanded presence from half of the fast-casual and quick-service restaurants to 75% over a period of six months.

There is something else you’ll need to consider too. The Kalsec study found that it’s not just a matter of hotter foods as it was a couple of years ago. Modern consumers also want a complex blend of tastes. People want more flavor with their fire. It’s only a matter of time until the world catches on to the exquisiteness of Mad Dog hot sauces… just like you already have.

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