The Hottest Food Trend This Summer: ‘Swicy’

New drinks and QSR items follow the demand for fiery foods.

June 03, 2024

“The spicy trend is here to stay,” Sally Lyons Wyatt, packaged goods and foodservice industry advisor with market research firm Circana, said in an interview with CNN.

Across foodservice, snacks and packaged beverages, spicy and ‘swicy’ (a mix between sweet and spicy) flavors are dominating food trends this summer, ranging from new QSR items to the release of Coca-Cola Spiced earlier this year or Dr Pepper Hot Take in 2023.

While spicy foods have been popular for years, Lyons Wyatt said the proliferation of spicy drinks is “particularly new.”

Starbucks’ new limited-time spiced line of spring lemonade drinks in three flavors—spicy dragonfruit, spicy pineapple and spicy strawberry—are inspired by the “swicy” trend of combining sweet and spicy flavors by using fruit and Starbucks’ spicy chili powder blend.

“I think we are going to see a lot more of this,” Lyons Wyatt told CNN. “There is a push now and we do see both unit and dollar growth of spicy and swicy products.”

According to Circana, dollar sales for food and beverages with “spicy” in the description has increased 9% year-over-year, reported CNN.

According to Lyons Wyatt, “the segment of the population firing up demand for fiery flavors includes younger Millennials, Gen Z and the youngest cohort, Gen Alpha,” as well as a more diverse consumer set that is more global in its outlook and cuisine preferences.

Circana’s latest data also found that 11% of 25 to 34-year-olds enjoy bold and unexpected flavors, up 7 percentage points from 2019, and that 11% of 18 to 34-year-olds enjoy bold and unexpected flavors, up 4.7 percentage points from 2019.

Following the trend, QSRs have been releasing new spicy menu items ahead of the summer season—Jimmy John’s announced its firecracker menu and Subway launched its fiery subs lineup.

7-Eleven debuted a new line of sweet and spicy menu items including a Mangonada donut with Tajin seasoning and a limited-edition peach candy lemonade Slurpee drink at 7-Eleven, Speedway and Stripes stores.