Flavour filled snacks is what we are all about. Its interesting how 2 super flavours are now at the top of their game. Sweet chilli is one of the hottest flavours right now, no pun intended you see it on nuts, crisps, chicken, in chocolate everywhere but where did the trend begin and how has it become one the superpowers of today.
Sweet Chilli sauce obviously has an Asian heritage particularly it is incredibly popular in Thai and Malaysian cooking. Its typically made with Chilli's and a sweet fruit or sugar. The flavour of the sauce is then recreated to invigorate several of our snacking favourites and has become more and more popular as Asian influences continue to be a large part of British Cuisine today.
Some would say the sweetness helps reduce the intensity of the heat often associated with Chilli's which makes it more appealing to the masses who may not all like to have there mouth on fire at every mealtime. It also has grown in popularity as people now understand the flavour and what they get from it even though it still sounds slightly edgy, new and different whereas some more exotic flavours are still a bit too out there for your average person to be willing to try.
Availability may play a part as its fairly easy to source the flavouring and ingredients to make a great sweet chilli flavoured snack and because you don't need much of it to make the flavour its really cost effective.
Imagery also plays a part here, it translates really well from the picture on the packet to the taste (See interesting graphic for example) if we look at one of the market leading crisps lets call them 'Runners feeling' ;) the packaging with the cracked chilli pepper really takes you on a flavour journey and lets you know what to expect just by looking at it.
Salted Caramel is another absolute phenomenon taking the snacking world by storm, Its uses are far reaching from your latte to a cheesecake or fudge to an Ice cream and its really grown in popularity over the last decade.
Its origins can be traced back to Brittany from a chocolatier called Le roux. His family owned a patisserie business and he trained to be a chocolatier. He took over the family business and wanted to differentiate himself from the many other local businesses whilst still keeping true to the regions routes and Salted caramel was born. (If only he knew).
Salted caramel is made using sugar, cream, butter and Salt. You basically melt the butter add the sugar and cream whilst increasing the temperature and then add the salt to taste. So fairly simple and again like Sweet chilli there is a familiarity about it but also a sense of the exotic due to the contrast between the sweet element and the burst of Salt. I remember trying a Salted caramel Ice cream as a student and I am sure the factories Salt machine had malfunctioned as it was so salty it really put me off any salted caramel products but then a few years later I tried it in a coffee and I obviously realised that it is delicious and shouldn't taste how that one tasted. (Oh how life could of been so different.
Part of its success has been that it seems familiar because its a variation on a standard flavour people are more willing to try it and the threshold you need to reach to buy it is not as high as something that seems completely alien. It has become associated with a more premium product as well which has helped push its popularity a caramel cookie, sounds ok, ordinary and decent but a sea salted Caramel cookie sounds like the finest thing anyone has ever set eyes upon.
It also uses imagery to entice you seeing the pockets of caramel ooze over the product whether on the packaging or the actual snack real tempt your taste buds and you can almost imagine the taste before you try it as it shines in the light and drips from the edge of the biscuit.
Again availability and the simplicity of ingredients make it really accessible and relatively easy to produce which supports is mass market appeal.
In conclusion in the world today especially with social media etc we eat with our eyes and the imagery and visual appeal of the two flavours have really helped them grow in popularity. The have also both made something familiar, better. Using a variation of a flavour people know has reduced the barriers to people trying the flavours and finally They are simple no bells, no whistles just all out indulgence.
Thank you to Sweet Chilli and salted caramel for being the Snack staples they are!