As if consumers of spicy food didn't have to endure enough scrutiny already ("HOW CAN YOU EAT THAT?!"), a new study conducted by a couple of Penn State researchers has found that a certain segment of supposed "lovers" of hot sauce might be lying about their affinity for the stuff in order to appear tougher. Specifically, dudes. So take a good, hard look in the mirror, guys, because your spicy integrity is under fire (the metaphorical kind, not the spice kind).
The study, published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, found that women who eat spicy foods are more likely to do so because they enjoy the taste, while men who eat spicy foods ARE PROBABLY LYING ABOUT ENJOYING THEM and merely associating the experience with appearing tougher and more macho, essentially wanting to look like those people whose taste buds can endure a lot of heat. Which is interesting when you consider that another recent study concluded that men who go for spicy food already have higher testosterone levels.
So do you keep a bottle of hot sauce on you because you genuinely like the taste? Or do you want that sweet, sweet "learned social reward," as the study's authors claim? Hopefully this introspection doesn't make you sweat too much.
Adam Lapetina is a Food/Drink staff writer at Thrillist, and will only eat spicy food in seclusion from now on. Read his musings at @adamlapetina.