A glass of pop
A glass of pop Unsplash.com/K8

Spicy food has been gaining popularity in the U.S. throughout the past years, with skyrocketing sales of hot sauces and Mexican food becoming a regular meal in almost every U.S. household. Coca-Cola has noticed this trend and is launching a new addition to the brand to satisfy the population's evolving palate.

The beverage giant announced on Wednesday that Coca-Cola Spiced and Coca-Cola Spiced Zero will hit the shelves on February 19 in the U.S. and Canada. This marks Coca-Cola's first new permanent soda flavor addition in three years, as reported by Axios.

The soda will introduce 'refreshing hints of raspberry and spiced notes' to the traditional flavor of the beverage in an attempt to follow the spicy food trend. Sue Lynne Cha, Vice President of Marketing for Coca-Cola North America, said. "We know that consumers are more willing to try new and unique flavors."

Coca-Cola Spiced and Coca-Cola Spiced Zero will hit the shelves
Coca-Cola Spiced and Coca-Cola Spiced Zero will hit the shelves on February 19 in the U.S Coca-Cola Website

While this shift to spicier flavors can happen for many reasons, one significant factor is the craving for more diverse tastes in our increasingly connected world. And, surely, immigration plays a role in this.

In the U.S., Latinos are on track to represent 20% of the population, with the special feature that Mexicans account for the majority. They represent 59% (37.4 million) of the population, followed by Puerto Ricans (9%), Cubans (4%), Dominicans (4%), and Salvadorans (4%), according to the American Community Survey 2022 from the Pew Research Center.

The influence of Mexican cuisine, which is characterized by its signature use of various hot peppers in its dishes, can be seen in the increasing restaurant offerings across the country and in hot salsa sales. About 224.64 million U.S. citizens used salsa in 2024, according to a study by Statista.

From 'salsa ranchera' to 'salsa roja' and 'salsa verde,' spicy flavors are a cornerstone of Mexican cuisine, which has been serving as inspiration for decades in the U.S., alongside other traditional cuisines from across the world.

Nestle USA's 2024 Food Trend Report underscores that "in the past year, consumers have increased their hot sauce consumption 23%, more than any other condiment. Salsa holds the second place with 22% gain and sriracha, in the sixth spot, with 19%".

The hot sauce market is expected to experience a potential 78% surge from 2020 by 2026, as stated in a 2021 report by Facts and Factors, highlighted in a Newsweek article. The article also reveals that Coca-Cola is not the first company to embrace this trend. Frozen food companies were early adopters, with Stouffer's introducing a Spicy Nacho Mac and Hot Pockets offering their own Hot Ones version of the classic snack.

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