Spicy foods, much like bikinis and personal cell phones, aren't just for adults anymore.
Young children are increasingly demanding school lunches dabbed with jalapenos and chipotle peppers; dishes on display at the School Nutrition Association conference in town this week included green chili pork and curried chicken.
"It's a crazy thing, I know," says Helen Corey, vice-president of MJM Marketing. "When I first heard 'hot and spicy', I said, 'Oh no, I make things for children."
But, Corey says, children's tastes have changed -- or at least been shaped by blazing red convenience store snacks and piquant fast-food salsas. Immigration patterns may also have helped put spice in children's diets, since a growing number of students come from Asian or Latin households that make liberal use of chiles.
Corey developed "lava bites," whole-grain black bean crackers, to satisfy students' cravings for heat.
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"The kids just love it," she reports.