More Spice Hits the Candy Aisle

Millennials and Gen Z are driving the demand for more spicy candy.

May 21, 2018

BEND, Ore. – Ever since Red Hots came on the scene in the 1930s, Americans have enjoyed spicy candy, the Sioux City Journal reports. Hot Tamales roared onto shelves in 1950, followed by the Atomic Fireball, which exploded into stores in 1954.

For years, cinnamon was the go-to flavor to add spice to candy, but nowadays, more flavors are adding a bit of kick to sweets, such as Tropical Heat Hot Tamales and Kick’n Mango Lime Chewy Red Hots. Experts point to millennials and Gen Z as key drivers for the renewed interest in spicy candy.

The American Licorice Co. responded to the rise of culture diversity among younger Americans with its Pineapple Mango Chili Straw. “The trend teams at American Licorice Co. wanted to develop new flavors with a multicultural audience in mind,” said Kristi Shafer, vice president of marketing. “The Pineapple Mango Chili is a combination of two of the top four flavors chosen by Sour Punch consumers in our 2016 flavor contest.” has been tracking the rise of spicy candy too. “One unique thing in particular we've seen is a massive increase in the number of traditional Mexican spicy candy,” said Clair Robins of “This trend has been happening for a couple years now. This is probably not surprising with the habanero and sriracha crazes we've seen overall in the food space.”

At, sales of traditional Mexican candy jumped 31% over the past year and a half. Sales of spicy candy overall rose 21% during the past year. “That's pretty huge,” Robins said. “A clear sign of a significant trend.”