The Trendiest Halloween Food Of 2020 Might Surprise You

Every year when Halloween rolls around (or sometimes, it seems, it happens several months in advance), there are a few food trends we know we can count on. Pumpkin-flavored everything, of course. And all the foods that aren't actually flavored like this ubiquitous vegetable are made to resemble it, as in pumpkin-shaped chocolates, pumpkin-shaped pizzas, pumpkin-shaped cheeses, pumpkin-shaped squash... oh wait, those are actual pumpkins. You should still eat some of these, however, since pumpkin (the real deal) is an actual superfood.

While pumpkin is the undisputed king of Halloween Town, the season also brings plenty of caramel apple-flavored this, that, and the other thing, not that anyone's actually given these out for Halloween since the whole razor-blade-in-apples hoax of the 1960s. (Not to mention, that was probably the last decade when anyone actually had time to make those in bulk.) There are even clueless product purveyors that keep attempting to foist off candy corn as a seasonal flavor, despite the fact that nobody is really all that fond of the original item. This year, there seems to be a new contender for the spookiest Halloween flavor: Fall 2020 is the season of the ghost pepper.

Why ghost peppers are the newest holiday flavor

Not only does Dunkin' have a surprisingly delicious ghost pepper donut on the menu, but Hormel is introducing a limited edition Ghost Reaper chili (a mashup of the ghost and Carolina reaper chile peppers) and Blaze Pizza (via QSR) has a new Blazin' Hot Chicken Pizza that includes ghost peppers in its chicken meatballs. Even Popeye's brought back their ghost pepper wings, although B Dubs has yet to reintroduce the ghost pepper sauce that once made patrons cry. (They were way ahead of the trend, as this sauce first appeared — and then quickly vanished again, as ghosts will do — back in 2014).

So why ghost peppers for Halloween? The connection is obvious. Halloween — ghosts — peppers, it's all in the name. Beyond that linguistic link, however, what makes ghost pepper this year's breakout flavor? As Foodbeast points out, this trend is in line with ever-increasing levels of heat tolerance as food challenge foods go mainstream. Shows like Hot Ones show ordinary celebs, not professional eaters like Adam Richman, tackling hotter and hotter sauces. Eating a ghost pepper, or at least a toned-down fast food version, offers a slight frisson of danger with very little risk. This is actually in keeping with the fun-filled Halloween spirit, after all, kind of a "fright lite." Nothing wrong with that, though. After all, in a year like we've just (almost) lived through, we could all use a few mild, safe thrills.