Humans experience taste in five basic categories: spicy, sweet, salty, bitter, and umami. Cooks across the globe have been combining these tastes to balance and enhance flavor sensations for basically all of human history. Think bittersweet chocolate, sweet and salty caramel corn, sweet and sour sauce. And of course, sweet and spicy — sriracha, hot honey, jalapeño margs, Mexican hot chocolate, masala chai, I could go on. Basically, this flavor combo almost always hits.

Sweet and spicy flavors are trending.

Sweet and spicy flavor profiles certainly seem to be on the rise in our favorite fast-food chains. There’s Chick-fil-A’s new Honey Pepper Pimento Chicken Sandwich, Dutch Bros Mangonada, Hot Honey Pizza from Pizza Hut, and of course pumpkin spice everything. Though, it should be said, 99% of pumpkin spice products are not spicy at all. But clearly sweet and spicy flavors are having a moment in America’s fast food canon.

What does swicy mean?

Naturally, TikTok has christened the age-old flavor combo with a brand new catchy portmanteau name — “swicy.” Get it? Sweet and spicy combined into one word? So original. But I have to admit, it does have a certain ring to it. And NGL it’s really fun to say. 

Swicy is not a new thing.

Of course, there are already words in many languages that encapsulate the swicy vibe. The Japanese word 甘辛 (amakara) translates to “sweet and spicy” in English. The German slang term süßscharf translates to “sweetspicy.” In Chinese, 甜辣 (tián là) means “sweet and spicy.” BTW, this is all verified by Google Translate, I am not a linguistics expert. But obviously, sweet and spicy is a well-established and articulated flavor combination. Even the term swicy itself has been around for quite a while —Google search data shows it going back to at least 2004. 

Personally, I’m not sure how to feel about the rise of swicy. Do we have to slap a catchy name on everything? What’s next? Swalty? Swour? Spumami? Only time will tell. But if this trend means more sweet and spicy — er, swicy — foods are available to me, I’m all for it.