Spice has become somewhat of a sport. Here are the winners.
We have a nationwide preoccupation with heat. We’ve gotten far, far away from the actual origins of spiciness in food — to prevent and mask spoilage, impart flavor and even keep rats away. Now, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a hot-chicken place, or a YouTuber posting a video of themselves eating Carolina Reapers and other esophagus-destroying peppers.
But the children. What about the children? Well, the millennials and Gen Z-ers are at the forefront of this red-hot orgy, frankly, and it is in that spirit that I hereby present to you the authoritative, definitive and completely undisputed L.A. Times Spicy Snack Power Rankings. Like strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, their infiltration of our country cannot be stopped, so there’s little point in fighting it. I have compiled every spicy snack known to mankind, save for the ones that I could not find, deem unworthy of inclusion, or both. What’s that you say? All these Flamin’ Hot and spicy snacks taste the same? UNTRUE. There are subtle differences, which I will happily illustrate below.
I have ranked the snacks based on 1) flavor and 2) heat, the amount of saliva-coaxing capsaicin I detected in each one.