The Best Ways to Cool a Burning Mouth After Eating Spicy Foods
Some activities in life cause sharp and immediate harm, like any social media actions taken between 1:30am and 5am, for example. Yet not engaging in them, isn't reality at all.
And so it is with eating hot sauce. Objectively, consuming any form of spicy food is a painful experience, but a kitchen without Tabasco? That would be a special kind of hell -- at least in my opinion.
10. Junior Mints
I wanted this bite-sized confection to work out so badly. With its cooling mint and smooth chocolate, the Junior Mint was poised for on-the-go, spice-countering greatness. But alas, this candy's components proved to be its ultimate downfall. Though the mint did, as expected, temper the burning sensation, the sugary goop also bonded with the residual hot sauce on my tongue to form a spicy mixture that clung like mucus to the back of my throat, and enslaved me to low-grade pain for the next 45 seconds. Thank you, soy lecithin.
9. Sour Patch Kids
Never have I hated this candy so much in my life, which is saying something because I actually quite like this treat. But this remedy disappointed me so deeply that I couldn't help but allow my childlike affection to devolve into absolute disdain. The first few chews were great. Sour, extreme, overpowering -- I almost forgot about the spoonful of pain I had just swallowed. But once the sugar crystals melted, the dominant sour flavor just ended up compounding the feeling of burning tongue. Paradise: lost.
8. Olive oil
I mean, it didn't make things worse, but it didn't make things better. Actually, has anyone ever tried swallowing raw olive oil? Turns out, it just tastes like differently textured water. This is not a good review for this kind of olive oil.
7. Graham crackers
Once prescribed as a remedy for sexual urges, I safely assumed the bland biscuit might do a similar job of suppressing my mouth's fiery sensations. The crunch and crumble were distracting for sure, and the cracker's mild sweetness did absorb some of the edge, but overall, the burn in my mouth remained.
6. Pure granulated sugar
Sugar in its raw form is actually pretty friggin' effective in dissolving pain. I mean, they don't call it a "sugar high" for nothing. But considering the calories I had to consume, I'm forced to rank this low on the effectiveness scale.
Your mother prescribed this viscous nectar for all your throat-related maladies for good reason. Its mild, floral sweetness does a good job of quelling the fire, but the stickiness doesn't help to clear the burn completely.
4. Creamy peanut butter
The fat content of peanut butter makes this a semi-effective remedy. Just a spoonful smothered and dulled some of the pain away. But unfortunately, the spread is also low in moisture and high in clinginess, which is a whole situation that must be dealt with.
3. Coconut water
It basically functions like a thinner, sweetened version of milk, but is more hangover-effective! If you want to replenish your electrolyte supply, and have your morning-after breakfast sammy dunked in Tabasco sauce without the heartburn, then this choice is manna.
2. Whole milk
It is a tried, tested, and studied fact that capsaicin -- the active, pain-causing ingredient in hot peppers -- dissolves better in oil than in water, and milk has plenty of fat. In fact, most pepper-eating contests will equip participants with a glass of milk to help them manage the agony. A cool glass of milk did in fact provide instant, cool relief as it washed the fire over and out. Lighter than peanut butter, milkier than coconut milk, and without the gumminess of candy or honey, milk was poised to be the uncontested champion in my search for the ultimate heat killer. Until...
1. Vanilla ice cream
This is it. This is fucking it. Eff milk, ice cream is the ultimate coolant. Cold and equal parts milk and sugar (the two most effective flavors so far), a single spoonful of ice cream immediately stifled all traces of hot sauce-caused pain, then sent me back into the recesses of my food memory and took all the heartbreaking choices that ever led me to question my sense of self-worth and self-respect and replaced them with a new optimism and a renewed faith that, yes, I will finish that bowl of pad kee mao, thanks.
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Michelle No is a production assistant at Thrillist, and she is a year-round ice cream eater. Follow her on Twitter at @Michelle_No and Instagram at @MichelleNope.