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.