Bring on the hot! Southern states crowned the champs of spicy food

NEW YORK — There’s no question many Americans are hot for spicy food, but which state can actually hold their heat the best? A new survey reveals New Mexico residents believe they are the champions when it comes to their tolerance for eating spicy foods.

spicy foodThe poll of 5,000 Americans — surveying 100 people from each of the 50 states — asked respondents about their ability to handle spicy foods. Researchers discovered New Mexicans are the most likely to boast that their state has a higher-than-average tolerance for spice. Americans from Louisiana and Texas followed closely behind.

Perhaps those three states in the south coming out on top shouldn’t be all that surprising. When respondents were asked which states they believe have the spiciest cuisine, the same three led the nation again.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of TUMS, results show Louisiana is the clear winner with 42 percent of respondents picking that state’s cuisine as the spiciest. Texas, once again, comes in second place (31%), with New Mexico rounding out the top three (25%).

Spice up your life

spicy foodRegardless of what state they’re from, less than a fifth of the poll (15%) believe they can tolerate their food at a “very spicy” level. However, 37 percent still consider themselves to be a “spicy food aficionado.” Nearly half of Americans (43%) admit they like to “test their limits” when it comes to trying spicy foods.

Among the craziest spicy food respondents have ever tried — whether on a dare or of their own volition — are chili-covered ants, chicken during a “spice challenge” at a restaurant, and the infamous ghost pepper. One ghost pepper eater notes they immediately regretted that decision afterward.

Six in 10 respondents would consider themselves to be an adventurous eater who enjoys trying new and interesting foods. This is especially true when they’re away from home, as 69 percent indulge more on the foods they love while traveling or on vacation.

“Nothing brings people together quite like our favorite foods,” says Sean Evans, spicy food expert, media personality, and spokesperson for TUMS®, in a statement. “After a year apart from family and friends, it’s time reconnect with the people and foods we love.”

Eating spicy food is a team sport

Almost half of the respondents add, when it comes to eating spicy food, they’re more adventurous when eating with others than when eating alone (48%).

More than six in 10 (63%) are looking forward to eating meals this summer that they haven’t been able to have during the ongoing pandemic. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to indulge in the foods they love. Three-quarters of respondents have experienced heartburn. Of those, 36 percent avoid eating spicy food as a result.

“Our survey shows that Americans love to indulge in spicy foods, but for many, they can trigger unwelcomed heartburn,” adds Amy Sharon, Director at TUMS®. “After a year like the last, we aren’t about to allow something like heartburn stand in the way of enjoying the foods we love. That’s why we are encouraging Americans to dial up the heat this summer and make it one to remember!”

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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