Monday, August 25, 2014

Everyone Likes It Spicy!

Fabián Everardo Alvarez Navarro
I recently visited Texas and was once again awed by the Lone Star State’s variety of salsas, hot sauces, beans, and toppings. I counted at least 300 different types of items to spice up any dish anyone might want to cook up. And not only was this variety of food impressive; I was also amazed by the variety of different bottles and names: Cholula, Bull Snort, Huy Fong, and Da’ Bomb, to cite a few.

As I browsed, I couldn’t help but think, what’s in these sauces, and why are people so keen to try something that’s so hot, it could be sold in the allergy section of a drugstore, where it would promise to clear your sinuses?

Years ago, Hatch, New Mexico made it to Texas in a big way. Hatch chile peppers are grown only in Hatch. This variety of pepper is actually grown in many other places throughout the state of New Mexico, but supposedly, the Hatch grown peppers are clearly the best. When these come available in late summer there’s a stampede among retailers to get all they can and to use them in all kinds of dishes.

What makes these peppers legendary? Simple: we believe them to be the best. These are truly superlative green chili peppers, and every summer retailers await their production like a cat eyeing the snack bowl.

Today, the ghost pepper is making its debut. Hotter than a habanero pepper, these peppers are now the latest fascination, and were the best-selling and most often sampled wherever I went in Texas.

As I thought about salsas, and places where peppers are grown, I wondered what makes a food trend like the ghost pepper a trend. Then it dawned on me: it’s because we, as retailers, decide to promote something unique, something no one else is interested in, which then makes it unique to us—the retailer. It’s what we wake up to do each and every day: to do something no other retailer does. Because we want to find ways to differentiate ourselves, we find products and events and support them until they become so big that everyone has embraced it—which then drives us to think about the next best idea.

And that’s what is so fun about the food business—the trends that develop from almost nothing to absolutely something because “we said so.”

So here’s to the next big idea! I predict it will have something to do with caves!