You Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot?

Spicy food is having a moment.

Millennials are transfixed by heat. Fast-food chains are offering newer and hotter options. Young foodies rank sriracha as their go-to condiment over classic options like ketchup and mayonnaise. In response to the surge in need for heat, spicy food brands are upping the picante ante.

Hot sauce lovers know and revere the burn of a super spicy sauce. They may also be familiar with the side effect of spice tolerance—blowing out their taste buds with too much spicy food.

You can build up an immunity to spice, requiring more spicy foods to feel the heat you crave. This could explain why food makers are working to create ever-spicier food.

But one Caliente kingpin says a hot sauce is about more than just spice level.

“It’s all about balance,” Noah Chaimberg, owner of Brooklyn hot sauce shop Heatonist, says, “if you’re going for a vinegary sauce, make sure you can taste the other ingredients. If it’s a fruity sauce, balance it with a standout spice like cumin.”

That said, Heatonist still packs a powerful punch. The store carries hot sauce from over twenty different brands, and they divide their spice levels into four categories: mild, medium, hot and hottest. 

“For us, good flavor is a requisite, no matter the heat level,” Chaimberg says. “Personally I’ll have a number of sauces of different heat levels out at every meal.”

Last fall, Paqui Chips challenged spice lovers’ taste tolerance with the world’s hottest chip. Earlier this week, Tabasco launched a limited edition new flavor: Scorpion Sauce. It promised to be twenty times hotter than their Original Red Sauce, catering to the die-hard spice-heads among us.

Their stock sold out in a single day. Tabasco has yet to announce whether they’ll make more for spice lovers who missed out.

But Brooklyn based “purveyors of fine hot sauce” Heatonist, a shop dedicated to the condiment, is still packing some major heat. Heatonist carries hot sauce from over twenty different brands, and they divide their spice levels into four categories: mild, medium, hot and hottest.

Heatonist is making sure that no food goes un-doused. They’ve stocked up their store’s shelves and their online storehouses.

Hot foods aren’t all about the taste either. Spicy foods can kick start your metabolism, leading to weight-loss. They can also help with cholesterol and heart health, lower your blood pressure, boost your mood by increasing serotonin levels and even help prevent cancer.

“Eating chili peppers has been shown to help people live longer lives,” Chaimberg says.

So, even if you’re a bit of a spice newbie, it might be time to give hot sauce a try. Your taste buds and your body might thank you.