Spice Nation

Spice Nation

Americans are evolving to a spicier palate. From Mexican to Indian to Thai foods, our mouths can take the heat.

Noticed it’s a little hotter in the kitchen recently? That’s because America is officially OK with spicy food. In fact, 54 percent of us now say we prefer spicy. And here at Panera, we’ve designed two of our newest sandwiches—the Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt and The Italian—to be right on trend with this particular flavor obsession.

Walk through any grocery store nowadays, and you’ll see the evidence: spicy potato chips, arrays of hot sauce and Sriracha, and even chili-spiked chocolates. Hot sauce sales in America have skyrocketed over the past decade, far more than any other condiment we put on our foods. Some chalk this up to flavor-seeking millennials, but even baby boomers are jumping on the bandwagon (up to 62 percent of them prefer to order spicier menu items, according to one poll).

Hand-in-hand with Americans’ growing preference for spiciness is a serious interest in global dishes. Global foods are generally stealing the show—and not just traditional Mexican dishes like enchiladas and fajitas. Witness the rise of the Asian-inspired meatball, the Korean taco and Thai peanut sauce.

Our Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt combines spiciness with global flavors deliciously, featuring smoked Gouda and pulled chicken raised without antibiotics layered together with fresh avocado and cilantro, sweet and piquant Peppadew™ peppers and fiery chipotle mayo on our black pepper focaccia.

The Italian starts with classic ingredients like smoked lean ham, Chianti wine salami and provolone, then takes a spicy turn with kicked-up sopressa and giardiniera—all perfectly balanced by basil mayo and fresh arugula on our hoagie roll.