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It’s Not The Pain Of Spicy Foods That’s Enjoyable, It’s The Relief Afterwards

December 31, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Nature apparently created capsaicin, the heat-generating molecule found in spicy foods, to deter our interest in such foods. But instead we enjoy them, having apparently adapted to the painful sensation that accompanies eating chili, jalapeños, ancho and cayenne peppers, etc. University of Pennsylvania Prof. Paul Rozin began studying the phenomenon back in the 1970s, discovering that animals really don’t like eating spicy foods. And there’s not that much difference in the tolerance levels of super hot foods between Mexicans and Americans. A lot of further research led to the following conclusion: whatever enjoyment might come from eating chili flavors, real satisfaction comes afterwards with “the relief at having endured, and survived”.
John McQuaid, "Why We Love the Pain of Spicy Food", The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2014, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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