For those of us who watch food culture obsessively, it's easy to forget that beneath the constantly churning waves of blog-worthy trends and counter-trends there lies a mainstream that changes at a far slower pace. While hotter, spicier foods of all kinds are hardly news in the foodie sphere, we're seeing some signs that the broader American palette has started taking to the heat in a big way.
In what appears to be the final stage of sriracha assimilation, Heinz has announced a soon-to-launch sriracha ketchup blend. While we imagine the spiciness will be toned down quite a bit, the launch is nevertheless a sign that sriracha has transcended the novelty stage (think sriracha lollipops, beer, chips, etc.) and found a place on kitchen tables across America.
And in the drink world, Bud Light has announced MixxTails, a line of bottled pre-mixed cocktails (an idea that's older than you might think) that includes a "Firewalker" cinnamon flavor. As Grubstreet points out, this is a move that might not have happened without the recent, massive success of Fireball, a cinnamon whiskey from Sazerac that has become something of a cultural phenomenon.
So, what's next? Szechuan peppercorns? Bhut Jolokia? Probably not any time soon. But if you're thinking about adding a little heat to your next offering, or including a spicy SKU in a new line, it's likely that even the most traditional palettes will be interested in giving it a try.