How one concept is leveraging the demand for more heat
As the demand for more heat rises, some brands are getting creative with spicy ingredients – think jalapeño-infused pepperoni or Sriracha mustard. Mazzio’s Italian Eatery has kicked things up a notch with a new addition to its new stuffed crust pizza line.
The line was initially introduced in March, with pepperoni, bacon and cheese options. The stuffed crusts pizzas were originally supposed to be a limited-time offer, but they were so popular with guests, Mazzio’s not only kept them on the menu, but "turned up the heat for the summer," said CEO and President Sheri Miksa.
"Stuffed Crust Pizza, Mazzio’s-Style has been an extremely popular LTO launch, exceeding our expectations. Our dine-in, carryout, delivery and catering customers are clamoring for it to stay on the menu," she said.
The jalapeño iteration is available for $14 for a large, one-topping pizza. It was added toward the end of May.
Miksa said more iterations could be in the pipeline, including with jalapeños.
"Many of Mazzio’s guests have been enjoying our create-your-own pizzas and have been topping their pizzas with jalapeños and other peppers for decades," she said, adding that jalapeños specifically have been on the Mazzio’s menu since 1979.
Still, she said the demand for even more heat is continuing on a growth trajectory.
"I believe customer’s palates have become more refined and many people’s taste buds crave something a little more bold, so we are certainly on-trend with the addition of jalapeños in the crust," Miksa said. "In general, I believe guests are looking for more flavorful options when they eat out, get carry-out or have delivery – in many cases, things they can’t or don’t cook at home."
She expects menus to continue getting even hotter, as indicated by the increased use of ingredients such as Sriracha sauce and ghost peppers. For now, jalapeños remain the focus for the benefit of both consumers and business.
"Jalapeños are a smart ingredient option relative to margins, considering some of the high commodity costs the industry has faced this year," Miksa said.
Alicia Kelso / Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with FastCasual.com, QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.