Some Like it Hot: Instacart Reveals Spicy New Insights for National Hot Sauce Day
As we celebrate National Hot Sauce Day, it’s evident that Americans have embraced a universal truth in their culinary preferences: nearly every food is elevated with the addition of hot sauce. Whether doused on mac and cheese, slathered on chicken wings, or drizzled over tacos, a splash of heat whether mild or scorching has the power to turn ordinary dishes into mouth-watering experiences. No wonder the spicy elixir has its own holiday…
Following the positive response to our first National Hot Sauce Day report in 2022, we owe an eagerly anticipated update. This comes at a unique time as the widespread Huy Fong Sriracha shortage dominated headlines throughout 2023 and has undoubtedly impacted the landscape as it was America’s favorite hot sauce in 2022 based on Instacart’s purchase data. So how has that impacted America’s preferences and are we close to reaching Sriracha stasis? With more than 1,400 retail banners on Instacart’s platform spanning 80,000+ stores, we have some pretty powerful (and spicy) data at our fingertips, allowing us to share the latest on the state of hot sauce in America.
America’s Hot Picks
Let’s dive right into the top 10 hot sauces in America based on Instacart’s purchase data from 2023. Frank’s RedHot has moved up from the #2 spot in 2022 and is now crowned as the #1 hot sauce, followed by Cholula at #2. Despite the Huy Fong Sriracha shortage, the beloved hot sauce has still managed to make the ranks at #8:
We’re also revealing the most uniquely popular hot sauce brand in each state — the hot sauce brand each state buys more than the national average, which showcases the purchasing behavior or hot sauce preferences that are truly unique to each state:
- Frank’s RedHot on Top: Frank’s not only the most popular hot sauce, but it’s also the most uniquely popular hot sauce in most states with 16 states primarily in the North East buying it more than the national average. Whether it’s party wings or pizza, we know Frank’s can complement a lot.
- Southern Roots: The original Louisiana Hot Sauce comes in second with 8 states buying the beloved sauce from the South more than the national average. Its classic recipe and balanced heat appeal to those cherishing Southern flavors.
- Spice Symphony: Cholula, Crystal, and Texas Pete are preferred in 4 states each, followed by Tapatio, Tabasco, and Sky Valley in 2 states each. Lastly, Valentina, Trappey’s, Spanish Gardens, Ox Brand, Nanita’s Finest, Monroe’s, Mexican Village Restaurant, Huy Fong Foods, and Heinz are the most uniquely popular in 1 state each. No matter where you are, the variety ensures there’s a local favorite hot sauce to turn up the temperature on any meal!
Scaling the Heights of Spice in Every State
Let’s explore where the spice enthusiasts reign and where the heat takes a milder turn — here’s a heat map (pun intended) of the states buying the most and least hot sauce via Instacart:
These are the top 3 states buying the most hot sauce:
- North Dakota (3.7 ounces/customer)
- New Mexico (3.5 ounces/customer)
- Colorado (3 ounces/customer)
Meanwhile, people living in these states may not prefer as much heat and buy the least amount of hot sauce in the country:
- South Dakota (0.9 ounces/customer)
- Hawaii and Iowa (1.0 ounces/customer)
- Oklahoma (1.2 ounces/customer)
The Sriracha Saga
Last year’s Sriracha shortage left a void on shelves, in recipes, and among hearts — igniting a wave of nonstop chatter about when America’s favorite hot sauce would return. As bottles became impossible to find on shelves, we decided to look at the order activity on Instacart’s platform, which signals we are finally gaining some Sriracha normalcy as orders are going back up. While Huy Fong has noted they aren’t producing at their usual capacity, they also noted Sriracha has and is returning to shelves:
As Sriracha makes its anticipated return to market, consumers and retailers alike are feeling the heat once again. Our purchase data reveals which states are leading the charge back to Sriracha stasis:
These are the top 3 states more likely to find Sriracha on shelves right now — based on Instacart’s data:
On the flip side, these states look to be a bit further away from a normal amount of Sriracha stocked in stores:
- North Dakota
Even in the face of the Sriracha shortage, America’s journey through the spicy landscape has revealed a resilient and dynamic hot sauce culture across the nation. Let’s see what 2024 has to offer… bring on the heat! 🔥🌶️
Adjusting for Growth:
We adjust Instacart growth percentages by the overall growth of total deliveries. Doing so removes the influence of our platform growth so we can focus on the change in consumer behavior.
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