Spicing up snack foods
Photo styled by Carissa Remitz, Article below by Carissa Remitz
Wednesday, January 17, 2006
San Francisco Chronicle
Visit any grocery store, mini-market or vending machine, and you'll notice an abundance of new "hot" and "bold" flavors of snack foods and condiments.
Sunshine brand Cheez-Its has a "Hot & Spicy" cracker flavored with Tabasco sauce. Frito-Lay's Stax will be releasing a "Hot'n Spicy Barbecue" chip in February. The barbecue flavoring tastes familiar, but the added heat definitely changes the impression these chips make on your tongue.
Frito-Lay is also introducing a "Fiery Habanero" Doritos chip. Make sure you have a glass of milk nearby, as these chips pack a pretty heavy punch. The Doritos are available now in the Bay Area and nationally during the next couple of months.
Frito-Lay spokesman Jared Dougherty relates the trend of hotter flavorings to changes in the food industry at large. "When we develop flavors, we take cues from a lot of different areas," including restaurants, he says.
"Hispanic-inspired flavors have continued to grow and reach mass appeal -- not just chips, but on products across the board. The need or desire for heat is growing." Asian flavors, he says, are also increasing in popularity.
Manufacturers point to possible health benefits of the spicy products. Wasabi is believed to have anti-carcinogenic properties, and studies have shown the ingestion of chile peppers, such as habanero, jalapeno and Scotch bonnet, can reduce cholesterol levels, increase the rate at which your body burns calories, and clear up your sinuses.
How much these nutrients are absorbed through processed foods is debatable. Still, Seapoint Farms of Costa Mesa (San Diego County), is coming out with a snack high in protein and low in fat and carbs. Its wasabi-flavored Dry Roasted Edamame is a fiery, crunchy and healthy alternative to more processed snack foods.
Less fiery is Silver Spring Wasabi Sauce, coming out in February. It lacked a true wasabi heat and flavor, and a quick glance at the ingredient list confirmed our suspicions. "Natural Wasabi Flavor" is the third-to-last ingredient, followed only by Yellow 5 and Blue 1.
Link to article