Mollie Hawkins
February 05, 2015 6:25 am

. . .has EVERYTHING to do with hot sauce. No joke, people.

According to a new study done by Penn State, women tend to seek spicy foods because they enjoy the thrilling sensations of the taste, and men seek out hot and spicy stuff because they enjoy the social aspect; that is, they get a kick out of the excitement of the attention. The study declares: “Sensation Seeking mattered more in women; Sensitivity to Reward mattered more in men.” 

So women just love hot sauce and all things spicy because it tastes good. With guys, it’s more complicated. “It is possible that the cultural association of consuming spicy foods with strength and machismo has created a learned social reward for men,” researchers conclude.

Well then.

A fella named John McQuaid just wrote a book about his extensive research on the mechanics how how we taste foods, and the science behind all the bodily sensations we feel when we do (that explains the tingly feeling I get when I eat pie, right?). He writes in Forbes that not only is it strange that humans enjoy eating chili peppers at all (we didn’t evolve eating them, and have only had them around for 12,000 years), some of us can’t get enough of them—and science can’t explain that one yet.

McQuaid also said that the whole thing is kind of bizarre, and for men “the experience is only partly about flavor. It can be a whole-body sensation, inducing anything from hiccups to a flop sweat.” McQuaid basically calls out his own gender for being “show-offs.”

And for calling ’em like you see ’em, we love you Mr. McQuaid, but we want no part of the flop sweat.

While men and women might be motivated to eat spicy foods for different biological reasons, apparently the way it brings us together is that it makes us loyal customers. “You get endorphins when you eat something really spicy,” Krista Lorio, senior manager of consumer insights for General Mills tells the Wall Street Journal, and that tends to “create a lot of loyalty.” 

I don’t know what you’re talking about, but pass the Sriracha, please.

[Images via, via]

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