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Can you take the heat? This state claims highest tolerance for spicy food

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Hot chili peppers on fire

Pass the hot sauce: New Mexico residents believe they are the champions when it comes to their tolerance for eating spicy foods, according to new research.

The survey of 5,000 Americans — with 100 people in each of the 50 states — asked respondents about their ability to handle spicy foods and found New Mexicans were the most likely to believe their state has a higher-than-average tolerance for spice.

New Mexico was followed closely by Louisiana and Texas, which were tied for second place.

And perhaps those three states coming out on top isn’t surprising. Separately, when respondents were asked which states they believe have the spiciest cuisine, those were once again in the lead.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of TUMS, the results showed Louisiana was the clear winner (42%) as the state known for having the spiciest cuisine.

Texas, once again, came in second place (31%), with New Mexico rounding out third (25%).

Regardless of what state they’re from, less than a fifth of respondents (15%) said they can tolerate their food at a “very spicy” level — but 37% still consider themselves to be a “spicy food aficionado.”

And 43% admitted they like to “test their limits” when trying foods with a kick.

The craziest spicy food respondents have ever tried — whether on a dare or of their own volition — were chili-covered ants, chicken during a “spice challenge” at a restaurant, and a ghost pepper — which the respondent said they regretted afterward.

Six in 10 respondents said they’d consider themselves an adventurous eater who enjoys trying new and interesting foods.

This curiosity could be true when they’re away from home, as 69% said they indulge more in the foods they love while traveling or on vacation.

“Nothing brings people together quite like our favorite foods,” said Sean Evans, spicy food expert, media personality, and TUMS® spokesman. “After a year apart from family and friends, it’s time to reconnect with the people and foods we love.”

Almost half of the respondents said that they feel more adventurous when trying spicy foods with others than alone (48%).

And 63% of respondents are looking forward to eating meals this summer that they haven’t been able to have during the pandemic.

Unfortunately, not everyone can indulge in the foods they love — three-quarters (75%) of respondents have experienced heartburn. Of those, 36% avoid eating spicy food as a result.

“Our survey shows that Americans love to indulge in spicy foods, but for many, they can trigger unwelcomed heartburn,” said Amy Sharon, director at TUMS®. “After a year like the last, we aren’t about to allow something like heartburn to stand in the way of enjoying the foods we love. That’s why we are encouraging Americans to dial up the heat this summer and make it one to remember!”


  1. Louisiana - 42%
  2. Texas - 31%
  3. New Mexico - 25%
  4. California - 14%
  5. Arizona - 11%

*Respondents were asked to select up to three


  • New Mexico - 83%
  • Louisiana (tied for second) - 72%
  • Texas (tied for second) - 72%
  • Arizona (tied for fourth) - 57%
  • California (tied for fourth) - 57%
  • New York - 52%

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