Given America’s love affair with sugar, perhaps it was only a matter of time before sweetness worked its way into every aspect of the American culinary experience.
A few years ago, it was the sweet and salty trend that took hold. No one dared publish a chocolate chip cookie recipe that didn’t end with a “salt bae” flourish.
Today, sweet and spicy– or “swicy”– is the latest trend.
What Makes Swicy So Irresistible?
According to Datassential, sweet and spicy pairings on menus are up almost 40% this year. Operators in every segment, from QSR to fine dining, are getting in on the “swicy” game. They’re drizzling hot honey on pizza, concocting sweet and spicy mocktails, and slathering spicy sweet sauces on their sammies.
According to De’Airius Salibi, one of the All Friends founding fathers, there’s really no mystery as to why people are craving these flavor combos.
“It’s really about balance,” he said “Spicy is great, but if you use too much you run the risk of it sort of just hitting you in the face. When you balance it out with sweetness, it makes for a more tantalizing experience.”
Who Loves the Swice?
People of all ages and from all cultures crave depth of flavor, but younger generations– Gen Z in particular– have proven to be more open than ever to new culinary experiences.
When looking at new swicy menu items offered in the industry, Datassential reports that as age goes down, purchase intent goes up. In other words, the high school kid would be more likely to try a swicy menu item than her dad, but her dad would still be more likely to try it than his dad would be.
The rise of swicy is closely intertwined with the fusion cuisine movement. As the demand for fusion cuisine continues to rise, culinary professionals are driven to innovate beyond the one-note, providing a richer and more exciting dining experience for patrons.
Swicy Around the World
The swicy trend also connects with another food trend (for which purchase intent goes up as age goes down)— the fascination with global flavors. In fact, considering that swicy is gaining momentum in tandem with the embrace of global cuisine, it’s reasonable to assume that the latter has given rise to the former.
These are some common swicy combos in global cuisine:
- Indonesian cuisine: known for its sambal sauces and rendang curries, often combining sweetness from ingredients like coconut milk or palm sugar with the heat of chili peppers.
- Korean Cuisine: often incorporates gochujang, a red chili paste with a sweet and spicy taste, into dishes like bibimbap, bulgogi, and tteokbokki.
- Middle Eastern Cuisine: dishes like Moroccan tagines, incorporate a blend of sweet and spicy flavors, often using ingredients such as dried fruits, honey, and harissa (a spicy chili paste).
- Thai Cuisine: known for its balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors. Dishes like Pad Thai, Thai red or green curry, and Pineapple Fried Rice often incorporate a harmonious blend of sweet and spicy elements, often using ingredients like palm sugar and chili peppers.
- Chinese-American Cuisine: some Chinese-American dishes, such as General Tso’s Chicken and Orange Chicken, feature a sweet and spicy sauce made with ingredients like sugar, soy sauce, and chili peppers.
All Friends & the Swicy Trend
This all leads us, of course, to All Friends, this being the All Friends blog. Not only do we have a swicy beverage, we have flavors that will complement your swicy menu options.
Mango Chili: This is the OG Swicy Bev. If you’re an operator getting a sample box from us and you don’t love it, do not be deterred. True, it’s not for everyone. But those who love it will crave it and tell their friends about it. Best part is many of them will be young and eager to spend their money on dining out, so serving Mango Chili will help you bring in profits for decades to come.
Strawberry Hibiscus: This is a universally loved beverage. Its jammy profile allows customers to add some sweet to the heat of your more one-note dishes. It’s great on its own but honestly it was born to be paired with whatever your innovative team can come up with.
Blueberry Chai: Pair this one with your beef-centric swicy dishes. It’s an unexpected flavor combination, but it’s one that wins everyone over. Bonus: it looks great in a TikTok video.
Pineapple Ginger: We love this one because it is a great palate cleanser and goes perfectly with those Asian cuisines mentioned above. It really shines against swicy pork dishes.