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The Hotting of America.
Believe it or not, the hot ones -- capsicums and black and white pepper -- are the most popular spice flavors today! The latest five-year figures show that imports of pepper black and white combined) have been averaging 78 million pounds a year -- or 33 percent more than the comparable average a decade ago. Capsicums (chili peppers and hot little chillies, but excluding mild paprika) are currently averaging 76 million pounds annually from imports and domestic production, a gain of 111 percent in ten years. All told, these hot ones now account for about a fifth of our total spice consumption. When you consider the impact of a pound of black pepper or a pound of capsicums, these figures become all the more impressive. (For example, a single ounce of black pepper is a two- year supply for your two-egg breakfasts, if you have them every day!) This isn't to suggest that we've become a nation of fire-eaters, but the statistics certainly prove that "bland food America" is changing its tastes. (Spice World, December 1990)

Article copyright American Botanical Council.