Throwback Thursday: Yearn to Burn in March 2000

March 2003 CoverI’ll be the first to admit I’m not a huge fan of spicy food. I’m the one who wimps out on salsa at our local Mexican place and can’t take the heat when it comes to jalapeños on my pizza. Still, our March 2000 cover was cool. We featured America’s growing desire for spice and took a look at some of the hottest peppers on the market.

Heat has invaded just about every style of food … including traditional Italian. Today’s menus find pepper flakes in red sauces, flaking dough, desserts and even coffee. There are dozens of hot pepper varietals from which to choose, and they all rank differently on the Scoville Scale, an international indicator of heat levels. (In my head, though, these various levels typically range from “OMG” to “I’m Going to Die”.)

Buffalo chicken, once relegated to hot wings on appetizer menus, has become one of the most popular varietals of non-traditional pizza –– including making it to the big leagues on chain-store menus. It’s a favorite in our office, and my most requested pizza when I’m cooking in the test kitchen.

I’m still operating under the belief that heat is fun, but it shouldn’t hurt. According to this Los Angeles Times article, England-based The Little Italy Pizza Co. has a pizza that some consider the hottest in the world. The pie is so hot that the company has issued a “Death by Pizza” Challenge that has garnered it plenty of press. Now that’s a burn that bites!

UK-based Paul’s Pizza in Brighton also brings the pain with its Saltdean Sizzler pizza. More than 1,300 people tried to finish it last year, but only nine managed to do so. (Nine people who must have rock-solid stomachs. Good lord.)

We want to know how hot your menu goes. How well does your hottest seller sell? Let us know in the comments!