What Makes Hot Tamales Candy Hot?

Today, I want to discuss one of my favorite treats – Hot Tamales candy. If you’re like me, you love this candy’s spicy kick, but have you ever wondered what makes it so hot? Well, wonder no more because I’m here to explain why.

So, what makes Hot Tamales candy hot? The heat in Hot Tamales is due to the inclusion of particular artificial flavors and a combination of different dyes and acids. 

Interesting, right?

Perhaps not what you imagined.

But let’s continue to explore these ingredients and what they do to our taste buds!

What Are Hot Tamales Made Of?

Hot Tamales are made predominantly of sugar, corn syrup, and modified food starch. They also include artificial flavorings, colors, fruit juices, and acids.

The full ingredients list is as follows:

Sugar, corn syrup, and modified food starch, contains less than 0.5% of the following: artificial flavors, dextrin, confectioner’s glaze, artificial color, medium chain triglycerides, carnauba wax, fruit juice from concentrate (pear, orange, strawberry, cherry, lime, lemon), sodium citrate, pectin, citric acid, malic acid, fumaric acid, red 40, yellow 5 (tartrazine), yellow 6, blue 1.

What Is It In Hot Tamales That Make Them Hot?

The artificial flavors, along with citric, malic, and fumaric acid, make Hot Tamales candy hot. 

Bartek, the world’s largest producer of malic acid and food-grade fumaric acid, states that malic and fumaric acids provide “prolonged sour notes” and a “great intensity of flavor.”

Now, it is true that cinnamon contains a naturally occurring flavonoid called Cinnamaldehyde, which provides it with its unique flavor and heat.

Though if you review the ingredient list of Hot Tamales, you will not see or find cinnamon as an included ingredient.

Why Are Some Hot Tamales Hotter Than Others?

Some Hot Tamales are hotter than others due to the production process. Some Hot Tamales likely have more ingredients that cause the heat than others.

Another potential factor is the age of the candy.

Older Hot Tamales candy may lose potency, resulting in a milder flavor.

And lastly, personal taste can play a role.

Some people may be more sensitive to spicy flavors than others, so what seems mild to one person may be blazing hot to another.


So there you have it, folks.

The mystery of what makes hot tamales candy hot has been solved (mostly).

Excuse me, I’m off to grab a handful of these spicy candies, because thankfully, Just Born still make Hot Tameles!