A measure of spiciness, SHU, or Scoville Heat Units, indicate a pepper’s concentration of capsaicin, the chemical responsible for giving peppers their spicy sensation. Currently, the pepper with the highest level of SHU is the Carolina Reaper, ranked as the world’s hottest pepper at an average of 1,641,000 SHU, making it nearly 200 times hotter than a jalapeno.
The thought of eating a Carolina Reaper might send your heart longing for the thrill of eating hot and spicy foods, or it might send you into terrified angst. It’s no surprise that some people live for spicy flavors while others avoid them like the plague, but what causes this difference in taste?
Let’s dive into the world of burning taste buds and fiery flavors!
Taking your taste buds on a joy ride
Consuming something spicy takes your taste buds – and your mind – on a thrilling joy ride. As the sweat beads form on your determined forehead as you work through a plate of super hot wings to the sounds of your buddies cheering you on, you realize the rush that comes along with eating spicy foods.
Studies show links between thrill-seeking behaviors and the enjoyment of spicy foods. If you enjoy activities like Parkour or scuba diving, jumping out of airplanes, or swimming with sharks, you may also enjoy the sensation of eating spicy foods.
Can you burn off your taste buds?
Downing foods that are slathered in hot sauces or burning spices starts to hurt after some time, making you think that your taste buds are beginning to evaporate. Although it makes sense why you would feel this way, spicy foods actually don’t kill your taste buds!
These hot foods also do not cause any physical harm to your digestive system. Instead, the chemical molecules in the spicy foods, like capsaicin, cause your tongue to feel a sensation of temperature and heat due to excited pain receptors.
Rather than actually burning off your taste buds, the chemical molecules in spicy foods cause your mouth to simply feel like it’s on fire!
Coaching your tongue
Take a look at your favorite brand of potato chips or at the offered line of wing sauces at your local sports bar and you might notice bolder, hotter flavors hitting the market over time. As we breed hotter chilies and create spicier products, consumers keep up by increasing their tolerance to the fiery foods.
By regularly and repetitively exposing your tongue to spicy foods over time, you slowly build your tolerance and can move from milder foods to hotter choices. Coaching your tongue to better handle spicy foods in this way works by desensitizing your tongue’s nerve endings and increasing your tolerance to pain.
If you’re a lover of spicy flavors, then the Hotpops at CIMA Confections will have your taste buds tingling! The combination of chili on the one side and your choice of exotic flavor on the other is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. Contact us today with any questions you may have on flavors or placing an order!