You know you’re mainstream when McDonald’s and Burger King put you on a burger. Chiles have made their way into fast food sandwiches all over the country; Wendy’s even has a ghost pepper burger (granted, it’s not that hot, but still). The NPD Group is a global info company that tracks this sort of thing. According to them, fifty-six percent of America’s households keep spicy heat on hand.
As if that weren’t enough to show that hot sauce has really arrived, the amount of hot sauce shipped to food outlets, including restaurants, has increased dramatically over the last two years.
Although vinegar-based heat still leads the pack when it comes to volume sales, habanero-based, fruit-based, and other takes on hot sauce are catching up. Unlike that questionable mole on my aunt’s chin, all of that growth is a good thing; more interest means more sales and stronger chile industry.
The obvious reasons for this are the endorphin rush brought on capsaicin consumption and the wider variety of options now available. You really can go as mild or wild as you want when it comes to heat. Hopefully the rush doesn’t end any time soon.