The other day I saw a package of habanero-flavored Doritos (bear with me, this is not a column about snack foods), which reminded me of a movement I’ve observed in the flavor world around ratcheting up flavor intensity (granted, I don’t have empirical evidence to back up calling this a movement, but just look at the shelves!). Consumers have shown a real desire to “up the ante” of sorts on robustness and strength of essences in food. With sriracha-flavored this and smoky-flavored that, there seems to be a race to see who can create the most intense flavors.
Want another example? Look at the flood of intensely hopped India pale ales (IPAs) in the beer retail industry — not a flavor profile for the most sensitive taste buds, yet there seems to be a near limitless supply of IPAs by every brewery out there. And even within the IPA world there are extreme levels that could make the toughest beer barons squint and cry uncle (such as Palate Wrecker by Green Flash Brewing Company, among others). It’s apparent to me that food connoisseurs desire to push the limitations of their palates.