Spicy economy

December 7th, 2023

Together with

Today’s the day. Drum roll, please… keep going… keep going… all right, it’s official… we’re excited to announce the launch of our very own podcast produced by Wheelhouse DNA: Future Forecast. It’s been a labor of love, and we’re so stoked to get it out into the world. Every Thursday, TFP Co-Founder and President Boye Akolade, along with CrossCheck Studios Co-Founder and CEO Chris Sawtelle, will dissect trends and themes happening at the intersection of business and culture. Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts, or choose your fighter: Apple vs. Spotify.

In other news… spicy food is in, TikTok does Wrapped (kind of), and hearing aids are becoming popular.

Top Trends

YouTube → Good Grief

Google → Norman Lear

Reddit → Angelina Jolie

TikTok → “Tokyo Drift”

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Spicy economy // Illustration by Kate Walker

Viral hot sauces heat up the spicy market

The Future. America’s love of spicy food is a long-running phenomenon, propping up a booming chili pepper industry, flavoring a variety of ethnic dishes, and inspiring some dangerous online challenges. To capitalize on the trend, you may just find a “spicy option” on every conceivable dish.

Too hot to handle
We live in the United States of Spice.

  • In 2020, the USDA reported that the chili pepper market hit $100 million, with Americans doubling their consumption of the fruit over the past 40 years.

  • That’s been buoyed by the rising popularity of Latin food, Asian cuisine, and Nashville hot chicken — with chefs across the board sharing how much Americans like heat.

  • Pop culture is in on the heat, too, with the Hot Ones interview series consistently going viral and Kim Kardashian’s SKKY Partners acquiring condiment startup Truff as its first deal.

  • And of course, the good ole US of A is the hot sauce capital of the world, with South Carolina’s Puckerbutt Pepper Company scoring the Guinness World Record for growing the hottest pepper on Earth… twice.

But there’s a dark side to the quest for ultimate heat. The viral Paqui One Chip Challenge — which dared customers to try eating the single chip made with Carolina Reaper and Naga Viper peppers — led to the death of 14-year-old Harris Wolobah in Massachusetts earlier this year. Paqui is now working with retailers to remove the chip from shelves nationwide.

Some things are just too hot for public consumption.

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Fragmented trends // Illustration by Kate Walker

The Future. Another year, another top trending list from TikTok to see if we’re really plugged into online culture, or if we’ve crafted an echo chamber of one. As TikTok continues to redefine what’s mainstream, social media success may now be defined not by who has the largest metrics, but by who best cultivates their niche — great for the creator economy, maybe not so great for brands looking for a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy.

For You… and you only
TikTok’s “top videos and trends” list is a poster child for a fractured culture, argues The Verge.

  • The top trending videos in the US were @dollievision’s makeup tutorial, @justinflom’s creation of an Iron Man light fixture, and @through.the.lleaves’ very large cat — which all clocked over 350 million views.

  • The top trending songs in the US were bops from Justine Skye, Twin Ver., and PARTYNEXTDOOR — all sped up, of course.

  • The top trending creators in the US were restaurant-reviewer Keith Lee, singer Young Miko, and model Sofia Richie Grainge who turned her wedding into a For You hit.

  • And the top trends in the US were “girl dinner,” “acting like you’re in a Wes Anderson film,” and “learning our red, green, and beige flags.”

You may be thinking either: “of course I know all those things,” or “what the what?” …and that’s kind of the point. TikTok’s hyper-personalized algorithm means that you may be a part of the masses who are tuned in or who are totally oblivious to what’s trending on the platform.

But some trends have such real-world effects that they demonstrate they really did change culture. Case in point: Barbenheimer.

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Don’t sleep on this hot cocoa

Actually, you should.

Not only is Beam’s White Chocolate Peppermint Dream totally delicious, but it can also give you your best night’s sleep ever.

Dream is made with five natural, sleep-promoting ingredients (CBD, reishi, magnesium, L-theanine, and melatonin) to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Simply pour a scoop into hot water or milk, froth, and sip — that’s it.

And since it’s vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, and only 15 calories with zero added sugar… well, it’s the guilt-free way to enjoy dessert and sleep better.

Don’t believe us? In a clinical study, 93% of users said that Dream helped them get a more restful night’s sleep.



Hearing aids are casual now

The Future. Since the FDA started allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter, sales have skyrocketed, especially among younger customers. With millennials and Gen Zers experiencing increased hearing loss because of their constant headphone use, popping in a pair of hearing aids may soon become a natural, frictionless habit.

Fit check
Phone, wallet, keys, glasses… hearing aid?

  • This year, companies like Sony, Bose, and HP have all jumped on the over-the-counter hearing aid market with low-price options that don’t have to go all the way into the ear canal.

  • The devices can boost the volume of speakers right in front of you, while also fading background noise — all controllable by connected apps that actively measure hearing loss.

  • And they aren’t just hearing aids, but also all-in-one listening devices with the ability to be used for chat, text, and video like any other typical, high-end pair of earphones.

According to the National Council on Aging, 48 million Americans experience some amount of hearing loss, but only 20% do something about it — typically because of denial of the issue or embarrassment around wearing devices in public.

Capturing the other 80% with over-the-counter devices could be a major boost to the already massive $7.7 billion hearing aid market.

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Sip sleep repeat

Better start counting your sheep. Beam’s famous White Chocolate Peppermint Dream is back for the season and 50% off for a limited time.

Packed with five natural, sleep-promoting ingredients proven to help you fall (and stay) asleep, Beam is a delicious, chocolatey way to get better shuteye.

P.S. It’s non-GMO and only 15 calories with zero added sugar. For real.


We ask the hard-hitting questions.

What’s your favorite late-night food?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

37.5% of you voted for thredUP in yesterday’s poll: What’s your favorite fashion resale retailer?

“I tried The RealReal and they gave back barely anything in commissions. They literally ripped me off.”

“Had the most success selling with Crossroads Trading (even sold gifted merch once!).”

“These choices suck. The real answers are eBay and Grailed.”


The best curated daily stories from around the web

Media, Music, & Entertainment

In partnership with Rocaberti Writers

  • SAG-AFTRA officially ratified their three-year contract with the AMPTP despite growing complaints that there weren’t enough AI protections. Read More → thr

  • Taylor Swift was named TIME’s “2023 Person of the Year,” capping off the Year of the Swift. Read More → time

  • Disney is testing a Hulu “tile” within Disney+... but not all of Hulu’s content is on there yet. Read More → variety

From our partners: Elevate your screenwriting career and connect with top industry professionals by applying for the Rocaberti Writers’ Retreat. With their full scholarship to a castle retreat in France or Italy, you’ll have Academy Award winners personally mentoring you on your script — a rare opportunity. And the best part? It’s completely FREE to enter. The deadline is midnight on Sunday, December 10th. Apply now.

Fashion & E-Commerce

  • Amazon is slashing seller fees for cheaper apparel to compete with its rival SHEIN. Read More → bof

  • Fragrance brand GABAR is launching a new store… in the metaverse. Read More → highsnobiety

  • LA’s Crypto.com Arena is piloting a new reusable cup program to cut down on the 15,000 cups it typically uses per event. Read More → thr

Tech, Web3, & AI

  • Google announced that its Bard chatbot is now officially connected to its state-of-the-art Gemini AI system, which the tech giant alleges is more powerful than OpenAI’s GPT-4. Read More → theverge

  • Reliable Robotics Corp. successfully flew a FedEx cargo plane remotely — a first step towards getting full FAA clearance to start self-flying operations. Read More → bloomberg

  • Roku is upgrading from OTT streaming devices to smart TVs. Read More → fastcompany

Creator Economy

  • Twitch is shutting down in South Korea, one of the top esports markets, because of high networking fees. Read More → engadget

  • YouTube named the “Skibidi Toilet” meme as its trend of the year. Feel old yet? Read More → tubefilter

  • George Santos, after being expelled from Congress for a lot of fraud, signed up for Cameo… and has made more in 48 hours than he did during his entire time as a representative. Read More → insider


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Senior Designer - Communications
McKinsey & Company
New York, NY

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San Francisco, CA

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Today’s email was written by David Vendrell.
Edited by Boye Akolade. Copy edited by Kait Cunniff.
Published by Darline Salazar.

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