What Loving Hot Sauce Says About Your Personality

What do you call people who love hot sauce? Sadists? Off their rocker? I mean, picture this… You’re hunched over your plate, sweat dripping from your brow, your mouth is numb, and your eyes are watering. You can’t do anything about the tears streaming down your cheeks for fear of burning your eye-balls. Your mouth is on simulated fire, and still, you reach for another chicken wing, the last bite of your burrito, an extra douse of hot sauce. Sound insane? That’s because it is, yet, some people do it every day. Granted, this is an extreme example, people welcome spice into their lives at varying degrees, if at all, the question is—why? Is it an innate personality trait? If so, what does liking hot sauce say about your personality?
What does it mean if you love hot sauce?

There are several theories on why humans love hot sauce, one of which is that it comes down to your personality. That being said, personality is

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complex and while some traits are innate, others are conditioned. Evidence suggests that liking hot sauce falls somewhere between these

two ideas. However, unlike with personality, there is no Myers-Briggs test to determine your spicy personality traits and research is mostly anecdotal.

 

According to Dr. Paul Rozin, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, people eat spicy food as a thrill-seeking activity. He calls this type of thrill-seeking “constrained risk” or “benign masochism”. Similar to enjoying roller-coasters, scary movies, or even listening to sad music, benign masochism allows people the excitement of a ‘negative’ or ‘dangerous’ experience with the comfort of knowing that everything will be fine.

 

Now, anyone who has tried our African Ghost Pepper sauce may not appreciate comparing the experience to “listening to a sad song,” but the truth is eating chilli is relatively harmless.

 

Despite this, “can chilli kill you?” and “can I eat hot sauce every day?” are some of the most googled chilli related questions on the internet.

According to Paul Bosland, professor of horticulture at New Mexico State University and Director of the Chile Pepper Institute, death by chilli pepper is possible in theory but is extraordinarily unlikely in people with well-functioning digestive systems. He states that “people’s bodies would falter long before they reach that point” and it would take a 150-pound person consuming 3 pounds of extreme chilli, in one sitting, for the possibility to occur. In fact, evidence suggests that eating hot sauce has health benefits like boosting your immune system and metabolism and promoting weight loss.

Culinary Thrill-Seeking

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All that being said, what if you’re someone who hates roller coasters, doesn’t like watching scary movies, but still find yourself asking “why do I like hot sauce on everything?” It could be that you have a high sensitivity to rewards. When our bodies sense pain, like our tongues burning, neurotransmitters send a signal to the brain and when capsaicin is responsible for the pain signal (substance P) the brain responds by releasing endorphins and dopamine. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain reliever and dopamine produces a sense of reward and pleasure. This is why some people describe eating hot sauce as a “rush” and people who are sensitive to rewards (the rush) keep coming back for more.

 

This “rush”, however, is only one answer to the questions “why is spicy food so addictive?” and “why is hot sauce so addictive?” It’s quite simple, really. Part of the reason we can’t get enough of hot sauce is due to desensitization and tolerance building. The more you eat hot sauce, the more accustomed you become to it and subsequently, the more you crave it. This is why people from countries that traditionally consume and grow chillies are more likely to enjoy the hottest varieties of chilli. Thankfully, this means that if you don’t typically enjoy hot sauce, you can train yourself to join the movement.

 

According to Chef Bill Phillips, a spicy food expert and associate at the Culinary Institute of America, starting “low and slow” by incorporating mild peppers is the best way to work your way up the spice ladder. A sauce like our Southern Braai BBQ sauce is a great place to start because its flavor packed with only a mild zing. You could also ease into it by trying our Habanasco Spicy Brownies recipe. It may sound like a surprising combination but the chocolate masks the intensity of the heat while the hot sauce cuts through the richness.

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Loving Hot Sauce and Genetics

In addition, scientists have also speculated that liking hot sauce may have something to do with the nature part of your personality—your genes. Unlike with cilantro, there is no spice-loving or spice-hating gene but tolerance to spice can be inherited. Dave Dewitt, a chilli historian, says to think of it as an allergy. Just as some people find pollen an irritant, some people are more susceptible to capsaicin as an irritant. This explains why some of your friends seem to chug the hot sauce bottle while others only need a tiny drop to get their fix.

 

Gender also plays an interesting role in our love for hot sauce. Although gender does not make you more or less likely to call yourself a chilli-head, it does dictate why you might. According to a study in Food Quality and Preference, women tend to like spicy food for intrinsic purposes like the stinging sensation and flavor. Men, on the other hand, are more drawn to spicy food for extrinsic factors like machismo and bravado. This plays into the idea that strong men can handle spice. That being said, despite the science, when it comes to hot sauce, nurture beats nature every time. Exposure, be it cultural or social, is still the greatest determinant of whether someone indulges their spicy personality.

 

Basically, your love of hot sauce could come down to your natural thrill-seeking proclivities, your sensitivity to reward, your genetics, or your culture and none of it really matters. All that matters is that you’re on the hot sauce train and you’re not getting off anytime soon.

The History of Hot Sauce

Hot sauce is absolutely everywhere nowadays. From Hot sauce festivals to TV shows to having “hot sauce in your bag swag” (Thank you, Beyoncé) it’s surpassed mere condiment status and has become a genre of the zeitgeist. But why is hot sauce so popular and how did we get here? The history of hot sauce is fascinating and spans decades, continents, and cultures and that’s just scratching the surface.
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The Origin Story

Who invented hot sauce, you ask? Unsurprisingly, the history of hot sauce traces back to the only place where chilies naturally occur—Central America. More specifically— the Aztecs. Chilli is believed to be one of the earliest plants cultivated by humans and archaeologists have found evidence of its use by the Aztecs as far back as 7000 BC. The first hot sauce in the world, most likely, consisted of ground-up chilies mixed with water and herbs. The Aztecs used it to enhance the flavor of their food, for medicinal purposes, to pay taxes, give tributes, and even as a weapon or punishment. So, if you’ve wondered whether hot sauce ever killed anyone, the answer may be yes.

Going Global

Hot-Sauce-Around-The -WorldFast forward a good few years and Columbus embarks on his infamous journey to find India. As per the request of the Spanish King and Queen, he was tasked with finding pepper (the black, grindable kind native to India). However, as we all know, Columbus didn’t dock in India and upon arrival in America, he was introduced to a pungent spicy fruit he called pepper. So, not only was he partly responsible for distributing chili peppers across Europe, but he also sort of named them.

However, just as Europeans were exposed to new foods and flavors, so were the native people. New ingredients like onions and garlic became key components in hot sauce reminiscent of our recipes today (like our Lemon and Garlic Peri-Peri sauce). Despite these advantages, the spice trade was controversial and brutal and the Habanero pepper, the main ingredient in our Habanasco -Fermented Habanero Hot Sauce, is considered a symbol of independence and self-determination by the Mayans who fought against complete Spanish rule.

Regionality

After it arrived in Europe, one of the first countries to customize chili peppers was Hungary. At the time Hungary was controlled by the Turks who were introduced to peppers from Arab and Indian traders. Hungarians loved the flavor but not the heat and so they removed the seeds, dried out the pepper and ground it into a fine powder called paprika—the key ingredient in our Safari Smoke Seasoning. To this day, Hungary is the only country in the world with the specific micro-climate needed to grow paprika peppers of the highest quality.

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That being said, the Hungarians weren’t the only country to embrace and regionalize spice, and today every culture in the world has its own type of hot sauce and style of hot sauce. For instance, Peri-Peri made from the African Bird's Eye Chilli originates from Mozambique. The sauce is popular in

 

Southern African cuisine and we also use it in our Bird’s Eye Chilli Sauce.

Hot sauce is so regionally particular that there are even spicy spelling discrepancies within the English language. Chili, Chilli, or Chile are all acceptable forms of the word depending on where you are. “Chili”, the American spelling, derives from the dish “Carne con chili” (meat with chili) now commonly referred to as “chili con carne” or just— “chili”.

Commercial Success

Hot sauce was first commercialized in 1807. According to newspaper ads of the time, a sauce called “cayenne sauce” was bottled and sold in Massachusetts, suggesting it might just be the oldest hot sauce in America. In the mid-1800’s a New York City company called J McCollik and Company produced a bird pepper sauce, probably not unlike what we know as bird’s eye chilli today. But the real pioneer of the hot sauce industry was Edmund McILhenny, inventor of Tabasco sauce. McILhenny grew his Tabasco peppers in Louisiana and sold his sauce at $1 a bottle. The sauce became a cultural phenomenon gaining its popularity in restaurants and hotels as a staple condiment. If you’re a fan of Tabasco, you’ll love our Jalanasco Fermented Jalapeno Sauce. It’s got that familiar vinegar tang but flavor-wise we’re in a league of our own.

In addition to the Tabasco craze, it was around this time that hot sauce became prevalent in home cooking. Hot sauce recipes first emerged in cookbooks around 1872. A recipe book called Mrs Hill's Cookbook, published by Annabella Hill contained a spicy BBQ sauce recipe that included red pepper and cayenne and a curry recipe that included homemade curry powder. Moreover, leading up to the 1900s, several hot sauce companies had emerged. These companies included Bergman’s Diablo Pepper Sauce who popularized the 5-inch-tall bottles with narrow necks that are still used today.

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The Introduction of Scoville

By 1912, hot sauce was so widespread that a system was developed to keep track of spice levels. So, if you’ve ever wondered how they measure heat? The answer is Scoville. Wilbur Scoville invented the scale while in search of a heat-producing ointment. It was tested according to human taste buds and the idea was to dilute a spicy extract with water until it no longer tastes spicy. Every degree of dilution translates to a Scoville heat unit (SHU). For instance, 5000 cups of water dilute 1 cup of Tabasco sauce to the point of not being spicy at all.

However, if “how hot is too hot?” doesn’t apply to you, try our African Ghost Pepper sauce. It’s a 10/10 on the heat scale and no amount of Scoville dilution can take down this flavor punch. Just kidding, hot sauce remedies have been around just as long as hot sauce itself. One of the oldest ways to cool down your mouth was a swig of alcohol. Guess we’re not that different from our forefathers, after all.

Standing the Test of Time

Hot sauce’s prolific history begs a few questions: is hot sauce bad for you? Is Hot Sauce good for your health? And why do we love it as much as we do?

Thankfully, chilli is great for your health. Despite capsaicin (the active component in chilli) technically being a deterrent, humans love it and it loves us right back. Hot sauce is considered an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It is known to improve your metabolism and has been used in cold, sinus, and flu remedies for hundreds of years.

Good to know that thousands of years of consumption comes with benefits beyond flavor enhancement.
Loving hot sauce is entrenched in cultural norms, and centuries of complicated history but turns out it may also be about personality type. Research has shown that people with higher risk-seeking tendencies are more likely to enjoy spicy food. So, if you love roller-coasters or surfing you’re more likely to douse your fries in hot sauce than ketchup.

Today, hot sauce is found on every part of the globe and the average grocery store may have multiple aisles dedicated to the condiment. It’s been estimated that Americans buy over 50 million bottles of hot sauce a year and the global hot sauce market was worth USD 2.54 billion in 2020. It’s expected to reach USD 4.8 billion by 2028. Quite the success story for the humble (or feisty) chilli pepper that began native to only one region and African Dream Foods is proud to be a part of its story.

5 South African Dishes to Try Before You Die

Boring people eat to live. But true foodies? We live to eat.

If you’re the type of person who organizes vacations around dinner reservations you probably already have a growing bucket list of dishes you’re dying to try. If South African cuisine hasn’t made it onto that checklist yet, we’re betting it’s about to.

Of course, you don’t have to jet across the world to indulge in a new cuisine—African Dream Food’s hot sauces and spices can bring authentic African flavor straight to your table. If you ever have the chance, though, that trip is worth it.

So make some room on your bucket list; here’s our roundup of mind-blowing South African dishes you can’t die without trying.

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1. Potjiekos

It would be a total crime against food to discuss to-die-for South African cuisine without spotlighting potjiekos, a stew-like dish cooked traditionally over an open fire.

Translated literally to “small-pot food,” potjiekos (known locally as “potjie”) has all the markings of a stew with one essential twist: unlike stew, potjie is rarely stirred. Stirring mixes a stew’s ingredients, creating a more muddled flavor profile. Potjie’s cooking method, on the other hand, brings out each ingredient’s individual flavor with a distinctive depth. The result? A rich, warming dish with an unbelievable range of vibrant flavor.

While potjie recipes vary greatly from one chef to the next, traditional iterations often include oxtail, a medley of fresh vegetables and potato. If you have the chance, it’s best to enjoy this one in its customary context: with a few good friends and a long fireside chat.

2. A Traditional Braai

Nothing is more South African than traditional braai. If you’re a local, braai is a summertime staple. If you’re visiting from afar, it’s food you can’t leave

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without trying (seriously, rumor has it they won’t let you through airport security until you’ve given proof—don’t even risk it).

The term “braai” technically describes a method of outdoor cooking most would classify as barbecue (we’re talking wide varieties of meats grilled slowly over open flames). But let’s be real: describing authentic braai as “barbecue” is a lot like calling the Mona Lisa a “picture.” I mean, it technically is, but we can’t insult da Vinci like that.

For South Africans, authentic braai is more of an elevated artform than it is a cooking method. Some braai masters spend decades perfecting their technique—and trust us—it shows.

Of course, if you can’t hop a flight to Cape Town this summer you still have the option to bring the spirit of authentic South African braai to your own table with ADF’s Southern Braai sauce.

3. Chakalaka and Pap

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No tour of South African cuisine is complete without traditional braai, and a braai isn’t a braai without chakalaka. Locals will probably describe it as a delectably spicy tomato sauce, though terms like “tomato relish” and even “bean slaw” could fit the bill, too.

As far as ingredients go, we’re talking carrots, bell peppers, onions, garlic, baked beans, tomatoes, and plenty of spice. If you’re making this one at home, add a dash of ADF’s Smoked Chipotle Salt to really bring out the heat and flavor.

Though technically a side dish, chakalaka steals the show in a wide range of traditional dishes. Hop a flight to Johannesburg and you’ll see locals heaping it on everything from grilled meats and breads to stews and curries. For the most authentic experience, you’ll want to sample this one on pap, a traditional porridge made from coarsely ground maize.

4. Bunny Chow

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Don’t let the name fool you, no bunnies are harmed in the making of this delicious Cape Malay curry. Referred to by locals merely as “bunny,” traditional bunny chow boasts an aromatic mix of spices such as star anise, curry powder, ginger, cumin, cinnamon and fennel seeds. The distinctive twist? Bunny chow is served in a hollowed-out bread loaf—no dish required.

Bunny is unmistakably Indian, but you’ll only find it in South Africa. The dish originated in Durban, a South African city boasting the world’s largest Indian population outside of India.

Give it a go with a fork and knife if you absolutely must, but bunny is best when you enjoy it like a local and dig in with your hands. Traditional bunny chow packs a little heat, but those wishing to go all-in on the spice factor will want to top this dish with a dash of ADF’s Bird's Eye Chilli Sauce.

Get the recipe here!

5. Bobotie

If you’ve ever thought you had to choose between savory and sweet, bobotie is a dish that’s dying to prove you wrong. This one’s best described as a

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curried mince. When it comes to the flavor profile, imagine a fragrant and hearty mix of ground beef, onion, turmeric and herbs topped with a delectable golden custard.

If you’re playing by the book, you’ll want to sample a bobotie with dried fruits (such as raisins or sultanas). If that’s not your jam, though, adding a little chutney (or ADF Sweet Dream Sauce) makes the perfect substitute.

Get the recipe here!

Small Village to a Global Success – Neville’s Story

Wild Shots Outreach is an incredible organization founded by Mike Kendrick. The organization educates local communities on African wildlife. Many success stories have passed through their doors, but a young man stands out for his tenacity, passion, and talent. This is Neville’s incredible journey to success by Mike Kendrick.
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Neville Ngomane contacted me in 2018 asking me to bring my Wild Shots Outreach program to his secondary school just outside Sigagule village in Mpumalanga, South Africa. At the time Neville was only 17 years old and I was intrigued to meet this proactive young man who clearly had a passion for wildlife.
 
Upon my arrival, Neville has already organized the classroom and recruited a group of students who were interested in wildlife conservation and photography. During our photography workshop, Neville proved to be as motivated in person and immediately I saw something special in his willingness to learn and his test photographs.
 
After the photography workshop, I took him and his class on their first game drive, and amongst all of the excitement, he managed to capture some amazing images. Coming across wild dogs, rhinos, and cheetahs, this sparked an hour-long conversation about rhino conservation and his thoughts on the matter. Overall the experience was so inspiring, to see such a young man, who had experienced unimaginable hardship, be so passionate about a cause and about spreading conservation awareness. I knew this was just the beginning of his journey to success.

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The next year, Neville and I kept in touch, unemployed and not sure where his life was heading, Neville never gave up and still had big dreams of making his mark on the world and spreading messages of conservation. Through the Wild Shots Outreach program, we managed to rally together and give Neville a second-hand camera and laptop. We could see from a mile off, the promise that this young man had. All he needed were some tools that many of us take for granted.
 
Taking him under my wing, I started taking Neville with me on photo assignments. I have never met anybody so willing to learn and absorb all the information thrown his way. One such engagement was covering a rhino dehorning operation for Rhino Revolution, an organization that dehorns rhinos in a desperate attempt to stop poachers from killing them, and I noticed Neville working hard to get low angles right in front of the rhino. Being that close to such a powerful creature is enough to invoke fear in anyone, but Neville was up to the task. Showing me, once again, that this man approached life with a fearlessness that would take him far.
 
When I returned to my office I went through his images and one shot really stood out. We named the image “Desperate Measures”. We decided to enter the image in some competitions and Neville went on to win a worldwide competition and the title of “Young Environmental Photographer of the Year”. We were ecstatic, but this was just the beginning.
 
From there Neville’s career exploded, winning this accolade led the image to gain global recognition. Neville made his debut on both national and international TV, sharing his message on conservation awareness and the power of photography.
 
We took Neville and his group from rural Mpumalanga to Cape Town for the Wild Shots Wildlife Photography Conference. Here the students’ photos were seen by top wildlife photographers including the keynote speaker, world-renowned photographer, and best-selling author Michael Poliza.

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From there Neville’s career exploded, winning this accolade led the image to gain global recognition. Neville made his debut on both national and international TV, sharing his message on conservation awareness and the power of photography. His journey to success sky-rocketed.
 
We took Neville and his group from rural Mpumalanga to Cape Town for the Wild Shots Wildlife Photography Conference. Here the students’ photos were seen by top wildlife photographers including the keynote speaker, world-renowned photographer, and best-selling author Michael Poliza.
 
Neville was then invited to fly to Hong Kong to speak at their Elephant and Rhino Conservation Conference. Neville and I often laughed that he had been up close and personal with some of the most dangerous animals out there and didn’t flinch, but take him on his first airplane flight and he was shaking a little in his boots!
 
In Hong Kong, Neville wowed his audiences with his passion and charm. He proved such a success that he was invited, by the organizers, to stay an extra week. During this week, he toured local schools talking about his image and the importance of rhino conservation. Neville returned from Hong Kong with some very poignant images of himself, standing in front of ivory and wildlife product traders, while holding his images of rhino dehorning operations. These images also gained recognition and helped spread the message of conservation even further.
 
So after all of this excitement, Neville returned home and, alongside two other program graduates, joined Conservation South Africa and the Wild Shots Outreach Media Team. They spent 12 months completing photo assignments and video shoots and they ran the Wild Shots Outreach workshops with me.
 
Neville's journey to success didn't end there, he is now studying for a BA in filmmaking at AFDA Media College in Cape Town. His tuition, equipment, board, and lodging are all covered by the Wild Shots Outreach bursary fund. Neville is one of six graduates of the program that we are supporting.
 
Not every Wild Shots Outreach photographer goes on to win competitions or to be published in the media. They do all learn photography and visit a game reserve for the first time. And they all get the opportunity to learn about the value of conserving the wildlife living just a few kilometers from their villages.
 
Giving a young person a camera gives them a voice. It gives them a voice and allows them to tell their story. In this way, photography boosts self-esteem and self-confidence. Our students develop pride in their photos, a pride in themselves, and pride in their country's wildlife and wild places. Through Wild Shots Outreach we are developing the photographers and conservationists of the future.

At African Dream Foods it is our privilege to support organizations such as Wild Shots. We hope that reading about Neville's journey to success made you feel as warm and fuzzy as it makes us feel! Purchasing a bottle of our hot sauce, spices and seasonings is so much more than simply enjoying the craft sauce we create it's supporting funds like Wild Shots and others who protect and conserve wildlife in Africa. We donate with every bottle purchased! To view our full range and get yours today, simply click here.

The Psychology Behind Why Humans Love Hot Sauce

Some of us like it hot; a select few of us like it even hotter. From international chili-eating competitions to viral hot sauce challenges, a growing number of humans around the globe have developed a twisted passion for setting their own taste buds ablaze.

At the end of the day, our love for hot sauce’s fiery flavor is something of a biological anomaly. Think about it: no other species in the animal kingdom would knowingly and habitually submit themselves to searing oral pain.

If aliens, for example, were to land on Earth during Hatch Valley’s annual chile-eating contest or Italy’s yearly chili-eating marathon, they might sincerely question what drives large groups of primates to torture themselves with a weird little fruit that simulates a first-degree burn.

So why are we so obsessed with setting fire to our tongues? The answer, surprisingly, boils down to a secret ingredient and some really solid psychology.

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Capsaicin: Hot Sauce’s Secret Ingredient

Scientists can’t pinpoint when humans developed a love for heat-packed delicacies—but they have nailed down the reasons why humans love hot sauce. When it comes to hot sauce’s satisfying kick, we have a unique chemical compound called “capsaicin” to thank. This hot little number can be found in chilis, cayenne, jalapenos, and any other pepper made famous for its fiery flavor.

According to leading research, plants most likely evolved to use capsaicin as a defense mechanism to keep predators from ingesting their seeds. But in an ironic twist of evolutionary fate, humans developed a taste for them. The rest—as they say—is history.

How Hot Sauce Mixes Pain and Pleasure

We might think about spiciness as a flavor, but when it comes to capsaicin, it’s not your taste buds that do the heavy lifting. Unlike salty or sweet foods, hot sauce’s irresistible burn is triggered by pain receptors in your TRPV1 nerves, which your body normally reserves for extreme heat. When you touch a hot stove or burn your hand on a curling iron, for example, your TRPV1 receptors are the first ones to know.

Basically, capsaicin tricks your brain into thinking that your mouth is quite literally on fire. In response, your body releases a flood of feel-good chemicals to cool you down and relieve the pain. Of course, you’re not actually in any danger of being seriously injured—but thankfully, your TRPV1 receptors don’t know that. At the end of the day, your brain receives all of the reward with none of the risk—which is exactly what has conditioned so many of us to love hot sauce’s scorching bite.

Addicted to Hot Sauce? There’s a Reason Why

Psychologically speaking, hot sauce offers your body all of the feel-good benefits of an adrenaline rush without any of the hassle or hazard. No wonder humans love hot sauce so much! For those of us who can’t bungee jump on our lunch break, the tongue-tingling condiment is a harmless (and delicious) way to cheat the body’s chemical reward system and score a little extra of the “good stuff” with any meal.

Interestingly, hot-sauce-induced adrenaline hits can become pretty addictive. Of course, like any drug, habitual ingestion of spicy foods will eventually build tolerance. That’s why, as your system acclimates, you just might find your taste buds begging for even more.

Don’t worry, though: unlike most other addictions, the health implications of a hot sauce habit are overwhelmingly positive. Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, improved digestion, and an increased metabolism are just a few of its many perks.

To peruse African Dream Foods full range of mild to hot-hot-hot sauces, spices and seasonings; simply click here. Go on - you’re just a few clicks away from the most satisfying, safe, feel good rush there is!

African Chillies: The Hot, Hotter and Hottest

When it comes to African chillies and hot sauce, there’s one burning question on everyone’s minds: “How hot is ‘hot’?” Spiciness is so relative to personal taste that it’s difficult to answer in clear-cut terms. While a bird’s eye chilli might register as a slight sizzle to one person, it could feel like a brain-searing inferno to another. Thankfully, the Scoville scale showed up to set the standard.

Curious how it works? The system ranks peppers based on their Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) which quantifies a chilli’s spice by measuring the concentration of capsaicinoids—you know, the chemical compound that gives hot peppers their zing.

The bottom line? We can’t tell you exactly how hot “hot” is, but we can tell you how today’s most popular African chillies measure up in SHU.

Jalapeño (2,500 to 8,000 SHU)

african-chillies-jalanasco-in-a-pile-of-jalapenosFor novice spice and hot sauce addicts, jalapeños are a gateway pepper. At between 2,500 and 8,000 Scoville heat units, they’re not the hardest-hitting chilli in any lineup, but they’re a tried-and-true favorite for their mild spice and approachable flavor. These good ‘ole boys are a go-to for amateur hot sauce and chilli enthusiasts craving a pleasant kick that won’t knock their teeth out.

Considered one of the world’s most popular culinary peppers, the jalapeño is a staple in Mexican cuisine, Tex-Mex, bar food and more. When it comes to ADF’s collection of authentic African sauces and seasonings, we hand-pick these African chillies, and the jalapeño takes center stage in the Jalanasco fermented jalapeño hot sauce (rated 3/10 on our heat scale) and the smoked chipotle salt (weighing in at 5/10).

Bird’s Eye Chilli (~175,000 SHU)

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Sometimes known as peri-peri or piri piri, the African bird’s eye chilli is petite pepper with a pretty decent kick. As the key ingredient in traditional peri-peri sauce, it’s also one of Africa’s most iconic peppers. Sure, it’s Scoville rating is dwarfed in comparison to heavyweight champions like the African ghost pepper, but at 175,000 SHU (roughly 22 times hotter than the spiciest jalapeño) it’s nothing to roll your eyes at, either.

Given that it’s still significantly milder than the average habanero, African bird’s eye chillis make the perfect “practice” pepper for adventurous spice enthusiasts looking to test the waters without diving in head-first. Aside from their heat, these little devils deliver a slightly peppered, fruity taste that makes them shine in traditional dishes like Mozambican peri-peri chicken. They’re also the starring ingredient in our Bird’s Eye Chilli sauce (which scores a 7/10 on ADF’s heat scale).

Habanero Peppers (~225,000 SHU)

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Like many other peppers, the habanero’s heat is strongly influenced by the soil and climate conditions where it grows—so Scoville ratings on these firecrackers fluctuate quite dramatically. Especially when you are growing these African chillies in the unpredictable Cape Town climate. On average, the typical habanero boasts approximately 225,000 SHU, making it around 28 times hotter than the spiciest jalapeño. It’s even recommended that you wear gloves when cooking with habaneros to avoid nasty burns on your palms and fingers.

We’ll be honest: when it comes to this one, a little bit goes a long way. Our Habanasco fermented hot sauce (measuring a hefty 8/10 on ADF’s heat scale) is the perfect example of an extra piquant sauce which balances the pepper’s hard-hitting spice with rich and tangy flavor.

African Ghost Peppers (~1,00,000 SHU)

African-chillies-ghost-pepperIf there’s such thing as a rockstar status in the chilli world, the ghost pepper wears the crown, being a crowd favorite amongst the African chillies Cultivated originally in India, the ghost pepper was brought to Africa generations ago, where it has been uniquely bred and cultivated into the modern African ghost pepper—a chilli boasting a taste and aroma distinct from its international counterparts. At over one million SHU, it’s a much feared and widely respected icon of the pepper world, garnering a cult following and claim to countless viral chilli-eating videos.

Called bhut jolokia (“ghost chilli” in Assamese), this searing fireball is globally known for a powerful, lingering heat that sneaks up and sticks around.

If that doesn’t have you sweating already, the African ghost pepper’s many unconventional uses just might; its intense heat has won this African chilli a reputation as a key ingredient in military grade smoke bombs and elephant deterrents.

Don’t let that scare you off, though. For true hot sauce addicts, the pepper’s flavor is worth the burn. Feeling brave? Try it out in our African Ghost Pepper sauce (topping the scale at 10+/10 on ADF’s heat rating) and our Ghost Pepper Salt (ranking 8/10).

  • African Ghost Pepper Sauce

    Super-strong dark African hot sauce with a lingering burn (150 mL/ 5 fl oz)
    5.00 out of 5
    $5.95
  • Bird’s Eye Chilli Sauce

    Your wings will thank you (150 mL/5 fl oz)
    5.00 out of 5
    $5.95
  • Habanasco – Fermented Habanero Hot Sauce

    A tangy fermented hot sauce with a powerful kick (150 mL/ 5 fl oz)
    5.00 out of 5
    $5.95
  • Jalanasco Fermented Jalapeno Sauce

    Green umami-flavored fermented sauce (150 mL/5 fl oz)
    5.00 out of 5
    $5.95

Is Hot Sauce an Aphrodisiac?

Most of us love spicy dishes for their irresistible flavor—but piquant foods like hot sauce just might have some equally pleasant side-effects in the bedroom. To put it bluntly, it’s entirely possible that a healthy dose of hot sauce could serve to spice up your sex life, too.

Of course, the idea that spicy foods stimulate sexual desire is anything new. Even the ancient Indian Kama Sutra, one of the world’s most widely read guides on eroticism, makes mention of it, suggesting that men apply a powdered pepper concoction to their nether regions as a tactic for seduction.

To be frank, dousing your genitals in chili powder is 100% a terrible idea that will likely end with an embarrassing sexual encounter and a trip to the emergency room. But that doesn’t mean spicy foods have no sexual enhancement properties. In fact, many believe hot sauce to be one of the most effective aphrodisiacs.

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What’s an Aphrodisiac?

An aphrodisiac is a substance (most often a food or beverage) that triggers feelings of lust and attraction and/or boost sexual performance. Named for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, aphrodisiacs are said to deliver a unique cocktail of chemicals and hormones that make their consumers feel a little more “in the mood.”

Over time, foods like chocolate, oysters, lobster, asparagus, and pomegranates have gained reputations as libido-boosting superfoods. Alcohol also makes the list—suggesting there might be something scientific behind the comical concept of “beer goggles.”

Hot peppers (such as the chilies used to create most hot sauces) are also commonly considered one of the most powerful aphrodisiacs. But when it comes to these so-called “sexy foods,” do they really work, or is it a bunch of pseudo-science?

Hot Sauce Titillates More Than Your Taste Buds

s-Hot-Sauce-a-Aphrodisiac-women-with-chilliWhen it comes to hot sauce’s fiery kick, we have a chemical compound called “capsaicin” to thank. Among capsaicin’s many health benefits, it’s proven to increase blood flow, boost stamina, and stimulate nerve endings on the tongue—one of your body’s most sensitive regions.

Consuming capsaicin also floods your brain with powerful endorphins. This unique cocktail of feel-good chemicals is comparable to the euphoric rush adrenaline junkies experience after flinging themselves off a cliff or jumping out of a plane.

Additionally, capsaicin’s well-known side effects (think sweating, increased heart rate, and the onset of a flushed complexion) pretty closely mimic arousal, suggesting that hot sauce really might ignite sparks that carry from the kitchen to the bedroom.

In stark contrast, our small-batch products feature fresh, farm-grown produce and other all-natural ingredients. For us, the small-batch process means the luxury of ensuring quality at every turn: no added preservatives, no GMOs, no artificial anything.

The Bottom Line: Is Hot Sauce an Aphrodisiac?

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Is hot sauce a powerful aphrodisiac? The short answer is likely yes. Most spicy foods undeniably contain chemical properties that will wake up your senses and raise your body temperature. That said, no food can truly be hailed as an all-powerful love potion.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially maintains that support for aphrodisiacs in general is 100% unscientific, the anecdotal evidence is certainly nothing to bat an eye at, either.

At the end of the day, how capsaicin affects your mood is largely determined by your body chemistry and individual taste. After all, arousal is more psychological than physical. So if you love the way hot sauce tastes, there’s a fairly good chance it will spice things up for you in the sack, too. In other words, next Valentine’s Day you just might want to ditch the box of chocolates and grab your sweetheart an assortment of African Dream Foods hot sauces instead.

To see our full range of temperature-increasing, heart-rate-quickening, flush-inducing hot sauces, seasonings and spices, simply click here.

Chilli and Chocolate: A Match Made in Heaven

They say opposites attract. Or at least, that’s the case when it comes to classics like sweet and sour chicken or salted caramel milkshakes. But chilli and chocolate? That one might be a little harder to stomach.

Our opinion over here at African Dream Foods? Chilli is the blazing yin to chocolate’s decadent yang.

With Easter around the corner you probably have chocolate on the brain, anyway. This year try spicing it up with a little dash of chilli.

At the very least, don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it.

An Unlikely Love Story

If you’re new to the chilli-chocolate combo you might be thinking the duo sounds like some new-age foodie stunt manufactured purely for shock value. The real surprise? Cocoa and chilli have been soulmates since day one.

We have the ancient Maya of Mesoamerica to thank for discovering the cacao bean, but their rendition of the food was far from the decadent chocolate bunnies and Hershey’s Kisses we love today.

Instead, the Maya ground their cacao beans into a hot liquid froth that was later dubbed xocolatl by the Aztecs. Sound familiar? The drink may have been hot chocolate’s ancestral predecessor, but it wasn’t sweet; it was bitter and often mixed with—you guessed it—chilli.

After landing on South American soil in the 16th century, explorer Hernán Cortés fell in love with the piquant concoction. Not long after, he began shipping cacao beans home to Spain where they quickly became one of Europe’s hottest commodities.

Decades later, the cacao products of yesteryear have evolved into the chocolate treats we indulge in today—sometimes with a little dash of chilli. The rest, as they say, is history.

These days, a lot of canned goods and condiments have expiration dates that stretch for longer than it takes a college student to finish a degree. Sure, these items might technically be within their “best-by” period. But are they really good for you when they’re jam-packed with synthetic ingredients and chemical preservatives?

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Why Chilli and Chocolate Works

The only thing that makes chilli and chocolate seem an unlikely pair is our own modern conceptions of how the two are usually used. At the end of the day, it should come as no surprise that chocolate’s natural sweetness brings out a chilli’s zing in a way no other food can.

Think about it: cake recipes often recommend tossing in a dash of allspice and Southerners in America are well-known for adding a dash of salt to watermelon before chowing down. Mixing contrasted flavors is a sure-fire way to bring out dynamic flavor—it’s the same with chilli and chocolate.

Our Suggestion? Just Try It!
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Habanasco Brownies - recipe coming soon!

If you’re new to the idea, trying the chocolate-chilli combo is likely a few steps out of your culinary comfort zone. Trust us, though, it’s worth the leap.

Keep in mind you’ll need to approach the combo with a bit of nuance. What we’re trying to say? You’re not going to get anywhere worth being by dipping a piece of Dollar Store baking chocolate in Tabasco sauce. In fact, for the sake of your tastebuds we’re pretty much begging you not to even try.

Like any food worth having, the chocolate-chilli combo might require a little artistry to really achieve peak enjoyment. In general, darker chocolates with higher cocoa contents pair better than sweeter variations.

The easiest way to try the combo is probably to score something like Lindt’s dark chilli bars. Alternatively, you could go a little more gourmet with chocolate-dipped chilli peppers, a classic chili con carne or a spicy hot chocolate.

The Key to Save the Rhino? It’s Right Under Your Nose

Known for their iconic horned nose, the African rhino is a fierce creature with an almost mystical reputation. At one point, our Earth was teaming with these majestic animals. Just 150 years ago, more than a million black and white rhinos roamed the African continent. By 1990, only 6,000 white rhinos and 2,400 black rhinos remained.

 

With rhinos dangerously close to extinction, global conservation efforts jump-started crackdown initiatives to reel the animals back in from endangerment. In the early 2000s, they seemed to be succeeding—both white rhino and black rhino populations had swelled, suggesting a promising comeback. But in 2009, the species took a tragic turn for the worst. We need to save the rhino.

Rhino Horns and the Black Market
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The last two decades saw a massive surge in poaching resulting from the ever-rising demand for illegal rhino horn, which carries a market value heftier than gold. Why? Over many years, the animal’s horn has gained a reputation—particularly in Asian countries—as a medicinal cure-all for arthritis, gout, headaches, high blood pressure, hangovers, terminal illness and even possession by evil spirits.

Though the medicinal claims surrounding the rhino’s horn are clearly unfounded, their mystical reputation and in-demand status persist. Today, just one kilogram of horn can fetch upwards of $70,000 on international black markets, making these beautiful beasts hot targets for heartless, money-hungry poachers.

Population Declines and Extinction

Rhinos are the prehistoric gladiators of our planet—they’ve roamed the Earth for approximately 50 million years. They predate the first human being by tens of millions of years, and yet we’ve forced them to the brink of extinction in a matter of decades.

Despite tireless conservation efforts, in attempts to save the rhino, the black rhino population of Africa’s bushlands remains critically endangered. Currently, there are only 5,500 left in the world. In the next ten years, experts fear they will be permanently erased from existence. The continent’s white rhino—the only rhino species not currently considered endangered—is “near threatened” with population numbers declining steeply due to poaching and habitat fragmentation.

For subspecies like the West African black rhinoceros, it’s already too late. In 2011, these glorious beasts were declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Following in their footsteps several years later, the last male Northern white rhino died, rendering yet another subspecies biologically extinct.

Conservation Efforts—How You Can Help

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According to poaching statistics, rhino deaths due to poaching have declined slightly since 2015—but the numbers are still far too high to reasonably sustain the species’ recovery. Local nonprofits and government organizations have launched anti-poaching measures that patrol conservation areas, seeking to stop poachers before they have the chance to kill—but even with these programs in place, a rhino is killed every 12 hours, creating pressing questions regarding the species’ fate.

Looking to the future, the answer is clear: stopping poaching in order to save remaining rhinos will require more rangers, better training programs, top-grade equipment and bolstered education initiatives—all of which require funding and support. At ADF, our mission is to provide that support however we can while simultaneously raising awareness and do what we can to help save the rhino.

As a socially conscious food brand, we donate a percentage of every single hot sauce, chilli salt and seasoning we sell to top wildlife conservation initiatives working to end poaching and protect Africa’s most vulnerable animals. Though Africa’s rhino populations are struggling, there remains a clear pathway to protecting the precious few animals still roaming the continent’s vast grasslands and bush. But those pathways require funding.

Thankfully, ADF’s line of hot sauce and spices give hot sauce addicts the opportunity to experience authentic African flavor while simultaneously fighting to bring endangered animals back from the brink of extinction. If that’s not food for cause, we don’t know what is.

Best Hot Sauces: Our Top Picks

Look, we don’t like to play favorites. When our team first went to the drawing board to begin crafting recipes, our goal was to design a collection of dynamic products that catered to taste buds across the board.

The result? A mouthwatering lineup of eight mind-blowing sauces, three chilli salts and one smoke seasoning that are dead set on changing how you experience food.

So when it comes to picking ADF’s “top” products, it’s less about identifying which sauces are the “best” and more about finding your sauce-soulmate.

Ready to fall in love? Allow us to do a bit of matchmaking. After you’ve identified the products that fit your flavor preferences, hop over to ADF’s online store to craft a customized pack.

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Best hot sauce for those who like it mild:

Let’s be real: extreme heat isn’t for everyone. Sure, you like a dash of spice, but you’d rather bask in pure flavor than set your tastebuds ablaze. We get you.

There’s no shame in liking it mild. If you’re craving authentic African flavor with a milder edge, the Southern Braai Sauce and Sweet Dream Sauce are two favorites just waiting to win you over.

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Southern Braai (Heat Rating: 1/10)

Our Southern Braai is a chilli BBQ sauce hailing originally from Africa’s deep south. With a full-bodied sweetness and subtle notes of spice, this one’s known fondlyby our team as a hot sauce with “training wheels.”

The sauce’s fermented red peppers do offer a gentle zing, but their tangy edge registers more as sharp flavor than serious heat. We recommend the Southern Braai sauce to those who shy away from serious spice but still crave bold, authentic flavor.

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Sweet Dream Sauce (Heat Rating: 2/10)

We weren’t kidding when we said that we designed ADF’s premier collection to include a little something for everyone. If traditional hot sauce isn’t your jam, our jam-like Sweet Dream Sauce just might be.

We like to think of this one as chutney’s bolder, more flavorful cousin. With a thick, full-bodied consistency, the Sweet Dream Sauce boasts a balanced pallet of flavor from bell peppers, garlic, lemons, coriander and just a dash of red chilli. Its pleasant tingle, fruity undertones and rich texture make it the perfect addition to a bagel and cream cheese.

Best hot sauce for those who like it medium:

There’s something to be said for the middle ground. You crave heat, but you’d rather not scare the pants off your tastebuds. You’re looking for a sauce with a hearty, seductive burn that doesn’t absolutely gas-torch your brains out. We get it—you’re about moderation, and frankly we respect that.

For those who like it medium, the Ghost Peri-Peri Sauce and Bird’s Eye Chilli Sauce hit that sweet spot between mild and mind-blowingly hot.

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Ghost Peri-Peri (Heat Rating: 6/10)

The Ghost Pepper has a reputation as a super-hot chilli. But our Ghost Peri-Peri Sauce rounds out the pepper’s intense heat, balancing it with the rich flavor of lemons, garlic and cane sugar. A daring take on traditional peri-peri sauce, this one is miles away from any “hot sauce” you’ve ever tasted.

Our Ghost Peri-Peri is also the perfect opportunity for mid-level heat enthusiasts to experience the iconic chilli’s distinctive flavor without submitting themselves to the ghost pepper’s full-force, mind-blowing heat. At a 6/10 on our scale, this one has a sweet upfront flavor backed by a slow-burning spice. It’ll warm your mouth without knocking you out.

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Bird's Eye Chilli Sauce (Heat Rating: 7/10)

The African bird’s eye chilli is a staple in regional cuisines across the continent. It’s best known for its complex taste, striking heat and addictive nature. Those three components are also exactly what makes it shine as the star ingredient of our Bird’s Eye Chilli Sauce—a medium-level sauce that doesn’t sacrifice flavor for heat.

Registering a 7/10 on our heat scale, this one balances the pepper’s piquant sizzle with the vibrant flavors of farm-grown garlic, salt and vinegar. It’s guaranteed to bring an ardent, unforgettable zest to pizza, chicken, meat or fish.

Best hot sauce for those who like it hot:

So you’re a bit of a daredevil, eh? You’re after a sauce that pushes the boundaries and makes you sweat. You don’t shy away from the heat. In fact, you’re addicted to it—and we don’t blame you!

If you’re a die-hard spice lover itching for flavor that’s going to send your head spinning, our heavy-hitting African Ghost Pepper Sauce and Habanasco Sauce are right up your alley.

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Habanasco Sauce (Heat Rating: 8/10)

Though crafted in the spirit of a traditional tabasco, our Habanasco Sauce boasts a flavor pallet and heat entirely its own. In place of tabasco chillis, we use farm-grown vintage habanero peppers, which lend the sauce its sweltering heat and remarkable flavor.

Each habanero destined for our Habanasco Sauce is aged for 6-12 months, which sharpens its flavor and brings out a strong, tangy edge. Its versatile, umami taste is exactly what your pizza, chicken, meat, fish and eggs are missing.

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African Ghost Pepper Sauce (Heat Rating: 10+/10)

We’ll put it bluntly: our African Ghost Pepper Sauce is serious business. With a slow build and lingering burn, this one’s for the true daredevils and heat addicts. If you’re one of the few tried-and-true spice enthusiasts who can push past the sauce’s upfront heat, you’ll be rewarded with its sweet undertones and salty finish.

Sure, it’s hellishly hot—but its flavor is heavenly. Use with caution.