Sweet and spicy is a combination of flavors beloved in many parts of the world, but in much of North America, it still generates misunderstanding or even disgust.
It’s only recently that we’ve started to see them pop up in some fancy restaurants like chili jelly on cheese board and charcuterie or the Mexican hot chocolate that’s so popular now in some major cities.
On the mass-produced side, sweets and spices are always prepared with the familiar flavor of barbecue. There have always been Doritos flavors known as Sweet Chili Heat and Spicy Sweet Chili. Owned by Frito-Lay and wider Mondelez (MDLZ) Introduced in the year 2000, the flavors blend sweet, mysterious barbecue flavors with a hint of spice. (None of the chips “burn your mouth hot” like the spicy flamin stocked flavor for example).
Chicken Wingstop Series (wing) They also serve a range of sweet and spicy sauces, such as Hickory Smoked BBQ.
Bacon, but heady
In Canada, Wendy (wen) It moves away from the barbecue theme with a different sweet and spicy flavour. The new burger is called Blazin’ Baconator, and it contains spicy bacon and a mayonnaise sauce with several seasonings.
Beef patties totaling a quarter pound of beef and six strips of bacon make the sandwich just like regular chain bacon—Wendy’s Canada thought the candy coating on the bacon would help entice customers with that extra taste.
“Blazin’ Baconator adds a spicy touch to the Baconator, allowing customers to get the same original flavors they know and crave but with added spice,” Hayley Kianoff, director of international culinary innovation at Wendy’s, said in a statement.
This is a limited time promotion that will only be available at participating Wendy’s Canada restaurants while supplies last.
As most fast food chains are currently pushing more customers to order through their apps, Blazin’ Baconator will naturally be available through Wendy’s Canada website and mobile app.
More meat, more cheese, more candy
There are many reasons why Wendy’s chose to test the waters with spicy meat and sugary bacon. This may be a nod to what is, in some parts of Canada, a beloved and historically important snack of candied salmon.
But sometimes, outrageous flavor combinations are not done with the aim of bringing in sales but expressly as a marketing ploy aimed at going viral.
In the ‘not bad publicity’ principle, it doesn’t really matter if the caption is ‘ew, gross’, ‘they did what?!’ or “You really should try that” as long as people don’t stop talking about it.
While comments about McDonald’s (MCD) The cilantro sundaes have been largely negative outside of their home market in China, yet they still help generate buzz online around the dessert and ultimately the company.
“This is part of a long tradition of companies creating new and slightly surprising combinations of fast food and snacks – more cheese, more meat, more toppings, adding sauces, [or] Cheetos, for their distinct crunch and flavour,” food historian Ashley Rose Young told the BBC in 2019.
Some items grow into online sensations while most fade away, but anyone who is attracted to an unusual product and shares a picture of it online is inadvertently marketing them to fast food chains.