Spicy Is Hot!

We love spicy food.  Right?  The hotter the better … there are some people who are not happy unless the food makes them sweat.

In fact, most people prefer spicy food over mild, which is why pepperoni is the No. 1 topping on pizza.  Pepperoni pizzas are the pies of choice among Americans – eaten in equal quantities as its boring alternative: cheese pizza.  (About 70 percent of pizzas are either cheese or pepperoni.)

Spicy foods are hot right now for a number of reasons:

The Food Tastes Better: is there any question that spicy foods just taste better.  There is more dimension, more kick, more flavor. That is why salsa has become America’s top-selling condiment.  That is why we love hot wings and chili.  More importantly …

It’s Healthier: Bite into something spicy and your eyes open, and they may also tear up.  Peppery foods, which contain Capsicum, actually stimulate the appetite.  Contrary to popular opinion, people in warmer climates prefer hotter foods not just for the taste but because they kill germs.  Hot food may also clear your mind. As people get older, they actually eat spicier foods in order to activate their waning taste buds.  For centuries, herbalists have been recommending hot food as cures for everything from arthritis to ulcers.

We Crave Them:  The preference for spicy foods extends back more than 8,000 years.  In Mexico, chilies were among the first domesticated plants. In Rome, peppers were so valuable they were used to pay the rent.  They are a necessary and intrinsic part of our diet.

These are just a few of the reasons people have turned pepperoni into the most popular pizza topping.  Any other ingredient cannot Lig_CrispCurl_Pepperonimatch the smoky, spicy flavor.  Pepperoni taps into all of our desire and need for something zesty and satisfying.

Pizzerias have tapped into pepperoni’s popularity by using it to spice up all different kinds of pies.  One of the fastest growing pizza choices is the “meat lovers,” which combines pepperoni, sausage and other meats creating a tasty, hot flavor profile.

When it comes to choosing between spicy and hot, there is no contest.  A sausage-making friend of ours, who sells his gourmet products to restaurants and retail stores for over 30 years, says that no matter how many flavors he adds to his menu, the Hot Italian is always the no. 1 seller.  “People just go for hot food first,” says the master of charcuterie.  “Hot sells!”

So, it is not just that “some like it hot”…  We all do.