Hotter Hot Sauces and Chili

Filed in Blog by on February 16, 2016


Hotter Hot Sauces and Chili Peppers: Is It a New Trend?

You’ve seen food trends in action, right? There are a few that you can probably spot almost immediately. Think for a moment about the strange addiction to cauliflower recipes that seem to be taking over (that’s the anti-carb trend in play). And, how many articles have you seen praising the smart-casual fresh restaurants (such as Chipotle) beating out McDonald’s? It’s big news; fast food has held onto the market for a very long time. And, of course, there’s the Sriracha craze we’ve seen unfolding over the past few years. But, is the demand for hotter hot sauces and chili peppers just a craze?

Make It Hotter Please

Once upon a time (yet, still within recent memory), the habanero was the hottest chili pepper people could imagine. Yeah, it’s certainly hotter than jalapeño peppers, but it’s nothing compared to the heat of the hottest pepper you can get today. The average habanero weighs in at about 200,000 Scovilles, but the current World Record holder for hottest chili pepper (the Carolina Reaper) might send you over the edge with its two million SHU rating. That’s an enormous difference. Also, consider that the average American consumed about three pounds of chili peppers annually in 1980. Today, that number is doubled. And, Tabasco is barely regarded as a hot sauce in the eyes of chili heads.

Clearly, that’s a trend, right? Well, maybe not.

A Very Long Pattern in the Making

About 12 thousand years ago, man discovered chili peppers (though it took a very long time to bottle them as hot sauces). And, the guy that stumbled on these spicy treats probably didn’t like it. The capsaicin in chili peppers isn’t a flavor; it’s a burn. The hotter the burn, the harder taste buds need to work to taste mild pepper flavors. But, people pushed through the pain and learned to love it. Surely the health benefits associated with chili peppers helped for several thousands of years.

Sure, there have been rapid advances in Scovilles recently. But, it’s unlikely that immigration from Latin America to the US or the prevalence of Asian chili sauces on the market are really the cause of ever increasing heat chili peppers and the demand for hotter hot sauces. People have requested hotter chili peppers since they discovered them. And, if something’s been happening for 12 thousand-odd years; it can hardly be a trend. But… it could be an upswing in the market at the moment.

Will Chili Peppers Become Even Hotter?

It’s not easy to increase the heat of a chili pepper and crossing plants takes time and energy. But, we’re sure that hotter peppers will certainly take the place of the Carolina Reaper. People want hotter hot sauces and more intense chili peppers. However, it must be said that there is an upper limit to the heat a chili pepper can achieve. 16 million Scovilles is the heat of pure capsaicin, which means that no pepper can surpass this (and likely can’t get terribly close either). So, we’ve got several thousand Scovilles to go – but also several thousand more years of development. There’s no rush. After all, this isn’t a trend, but human nature.

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