One of the top trends for 2019 is “The Adventurous Consumer.” As described by Food Ingredients First, this trend is about “satisfying the adventurous consumer, with consumers moving out of their comfort zones to explore bolder flavors and multisensory food experiences. There is a focus on heightened sensory delivery, often combined with an element of the unexpected.”
The bold flavors of “The Adventurous Consumer” trend are often entering the candy market in the form of products that combine sweetness and spices. In particular, there is an increased interest in desserts that combine chocolate with hot sauce or hot peppers. Frequently, these products take the traditional chili and chocolate combination from a gentle hint of spice to a more extreme taste that is dominated by the heat of hot peppers.
For several years, Sriracha hot sauce has been a trendy food item, with Sriracha partnering with other brands such as Doritos and Blue Diamond Almonds to launch a range of products that possess the distinctive Sriracha flavor. However, rather than partnering with an established chocolate company, Huy Fong, the company that makes Sriracha, now offers their own line of “Hot Salted Sriracha” chocolate. The Huy Fong products are available in milk chocolate, 55 percent dark chocolate, and 70 percent dark chocolate varieties. The Huy Fong chocolates are all seasoned with Himalayan Pink Salt, another trendy ingredient that is likely to increase the appeal of this product with adventurous consumers.
In addition to the chocolate products offered by Huy Fong, Sugar Plum Chocolates offers several Sriracha-infused chocolate products, such as their “Devil Inside” chocolate bar, which their Amazon page says, “combines delicious Belgian dark chocolate with everyone’s favorite Sriracha sauce, all blended into a 2oz. bar for a truly unique experience that is sure to set your taste buds on fire!”
Sugar Plum Chocolates also offers potato chips that are covered in Sriracha-infused chocolate – an even bolder combination of flavors designed to appeal to adventurous consumers. This is the type of product that many people will want to try out of curiosity – even if the combination of potato chips, hot sauce, and chocolate doesn’t sound entirely appealing. (The company claims that the Academy Awards approached them about including these potato chips in their “famous goody bags.”)
Sriracha isn’t the only company offering bold chocolate products. Tabasco Sauce also now produces their own chocolates; and Lindt – a traditional chocolate maker – also now offers a Chili Dark Chocolate Bar.
Small, regional brands are also taking advantage of this opportunity to create bold and spicy chocolate products. For example, Southwestern Specialty Foods offers a “Chocolate Bar From Hell” that is infused with habanero peppers; and which, according to its page on Hot Sauce Depot, is truly spicy, with a 7/10 rating on their spiciness scale.
As consumers continue to show interest in unusual and extreme flavors, it’s likely that we’ll see more spiced chocolate products on the market – especially those that claim to offer a truly spicy sensory experience.