Keeping the foodservice equipment marketplace up to date with the latest menu and concept trends.


Sweet + Spicy = Swicy

The National Restaurant Association identified “swicy” foods, a combination of sweet and spicy flavors, as one of its top culinary trends for 2023.

Flavor Appeal

Forty-five percent of consumers find swicy food appealing or extremely appealing, according to Chicago-based Technomic’s Ignite data, which measured consumer preferences from the fourth quarter of 2021 to the same period in 2022. Men favor swicy food a bit more; the percentage increases to 50% for men who find swicy appealing. 

Concept Close-Up: Newk’s Eatery Swicy LTO

Jackson, Miss.-based Newk’s Eatery, a fast-casual concept with slightly less than 100 locations in 15 states, continues to capitalize on the popularity of sweet and spicy flavor profiles. “I started noticing the hot and honey trend last year,” says Denise Pedini, Newk’s chief marketing officer. “We are known for our barbecue sauce and, in 2022, created a swicy version for our barbecue chicken sandwich.”

Newks 1Fast-casual concept Newk's is integrating swicy items into its menu.The chain introduced the flavor profile as a limited-time offer, and it was a big hit. “We haven’t yet put it on the menu permanently, but each quarter, we’re introducing new flavor profiles,” Pedini says. “If it does really well, we’ll put it on the menu permanently.”

Newk’s rolled out a hot honey chicken sandwich and hot honey Italian pizza, which were available from January to March. “Due to the popularity, we’re considering adding these items permanently,” Pedini says. “We make everything, including our flavors and sauces, to order.”

The culinary team prepares the hot honey sauce, a mix of honey and cayenne pepper, by hand, in bowls. That item is used as a condiment. By contrast, Newk’s marinates its chicken in sweet and spicy barbecue sauce.

“We’re looking at expanding our swicy offerings since we’re seeing people love the sweetness with the kick at the end; these guests are willing to experiment and try different things, and this is a safe combination,” Pedini says. “We’re looking at other swicy profiles with an Asian flair for the future.”

Swicy Love

  • 24% of people love sweet and spicy (putting it in the 78th percentile of all foods and flavors)
  • 11% of people love spicy honey, with 62% saying they are familiar with it
  • 4% of people love spicy maple, with 44% saying they are familiar with it

Source: Datassential’s FLAVOR database

By the Numbers

Overall, the presence of hot honey has been growing for many years, according to Chicago-based Datassential. Trendologist Mike Kostyo called out spicy maple as “the next hot honey” in the market research firm’s annual trend report. 

Foodservice Equipment Supplies May 2023 1