Some Kids Like it Hot: Bland Isn’t Better When it Comes to Snacking

Some Kids Like it Hot: Bland Isn’t Better When it Comes to Snacking

Spicy Flavor Trend Rewards Brands that Avoid Bland When Marketing to Mom and Kids

There’s a tendency to stereotype children as preferring bland flavors—think pasta with butter, Cheerios and applesauce. But children six and older actually appreciate more diverse flavor profiles, proven by the immense popularity of spicy snack foods like Takis and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Market research experts KidSay shows Takis in the top five for favorite snacks in their Trend Tracker report, while Flamin’ Hot Cheetos ranks at number nine:

Takis are in the top snacks with kids

Terence Burke, Vice President of Qualitative Research at KidSay, talks about the immediate rise of Takis:

“Typically, brands in the snack category move like a glacier. Each year, there’s slight movement in the Top 5 favorite snacks, but there are always the same names. While Flamin’ Hot Cheetos moved up at a steady pace, Takis rose like a meteor and has stayed there. Takis has stayed there for over a year and is a legitimate player.”

Takis, a spicy corn chip snack from relatively-unknown Barcel USA, rose to popularity amid buzz surrounding the “Hot Cheetos and Takis” viral music video. The video was produced by children in Minneapolis as part of an after-school summer program and was hailed as “the summer’s final truly great jam” by Rolling Stone.

Over the past 10 years, qualitative research by KidSay has detected this shift towards spicy food. Burke explains:

“In particular, we saw this shift in areas with large Latino populations—south, southwest. Because of the cultural palate, kids got used to the spicy flavors and kids of all cultural backgrounds were exposed to spicier foods. With more families and kids being exposed to more food choices and different palates, they began to expand what they ate. For boys in the tween years, it also became a macho challenge—‘Can you handle the heat?’”

These adaptations to the palate extend beyond snack foods. Last year, a client marketing Asian frozen foods explored marketing their appetizers to moms with children aged 6+, and found that the children and their families were receptive.

So don’t be afraid to market spicy foods to Mom and her older kids—they can handle it!


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    Michal Clements

    Michal is co-author of Tuning Into Mom and an experienced consultant. Michal develops winning growth strategies and detailed go to market plans for some of the world’s outstanding organizations including McDonald’s, Gatorade, Abbott, Barilla, Tylenol, Clorox, Key Bank, Eagle Ottawa, Quaker and the Baker Demonstration School.

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