Hot Honey Has Us in Its Sticky Grip

In a world gone mad for condiments, hot honey is king.

You can taste it in a Sweetgreen bowl and KFC chicken nuggets, crunch on it in Utz potato chips and pretzels, and savor it in limited-edition ice cream pints. You can buy bottles of it in bulk at Costco, relish it on ricotta toast in Williamsburg wine bars and wear it — sort of. Mike’s Hot Honey, the leading producer of the condiment, even collaborated on a branded sneaker last year.

Like pumpkin spice and ranch dressing before it, hot honey has gone from novel to trendy.Credit…Zeke Martinez

As of last week, you can go so far as to drink hot honey in an affogato or espresso martini at a Starbucks Reserve, the deluxe locations where the company introduces new flavors and products.

Sweet-and-spicy is not a surprising combination, especially in the South, where honey and hot sauce have long kept company with breakfast biscuits. And sweetened heat has long been a beloved flavor profile across cultures: Thai nam jim gai, sweet chile sauce; ancient Rome’s honey and black pepper wine; Central European gingersnaps; Nashville hot chicken.

Introduced as a pizza topping to the American palate a little more than decade ago, hot honey has quickly gone from a drizzle to a deluge. Google searches for it have increased tenfold in the past 10 years, peaking in February. Hot honey has now joined the ranks of pumpkin spice, ranch and chile crisp as flavors that made the leap from cult classic to mainstream darling.

According to many rapturous TikTok videos, its affinity for charcuterie and cheese boards, not to mention chicken tenders and pepperoni pizza, has helped drive the trend — and inspire recipes.

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