Viral hot sauces heat up the spicy market

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The Future. America’s love of spicy food is a long-running phenomenon, propping up a booming chili pepper industry, flavoring a variety of ethnic dishes, and inspiring some dangerous online challenges. To capitalize on the trend, you may just find a “spicy option” on every conceivable dish.

Too hot to handle
We live in the United States of Spice.

  • In 2020, the USDA reported that the chili pepper market hit $100 million, with Americans doubling their consumption of the fruit over the past 40 years.
  • That’s been buoyed by the rising popularity of Latin food, Asian cuisine, and Nashville hot chicken — with chefs across the board sharing how much Americans like heat.
  • Pop culture is in on the heat, too, with the Hot Ones interview series consistently going viral and Kim Kardashian’s SKKY Partners acquiring condiment startup Truff as its first deal.
  • And of course, the good ole US of A is the hot sauce capital of the world, with South Carolina’s Puckerbutt Pepper Company scoring the Guinness World Record for growing the hottest pepper on Earth… twice.

But there’s a dark side to the quest for ultimate heat. The viral Paqui One Chip Challenge — which dared customers to try eating the single chip made with Carolina Reaper and Naga Viper peppers — led to the death of 14-year-old Harris Wolobah in Massachusetts earlier this year. Paqui is now working with retailers to remove the chip from shelves nationwide.

Some things are just too hot for public consumption.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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