“Complex heat” is how Amie Wentz, director of brand management for Emmi Roth, characterizes the current demand for sweet heat and other variations on the theme.

“Across menus and online, the taste for global peppers is on the rise,” she said. “Pepper-infused drinks, chili oils, and botana sauces are becoming increasingly popular, with the trend spreading to cheese.”

Roth Cheese has established itself as a complex heat leader in the cheese industry, with its award-winning Roth 3 Chile Pepper Gouda.

And now the company’s complex heat repertoire has expanded even further to include sweet heat.

Roth’s new Hot Honey Gouda, which embraces the sweet heat trend with a blend of honey and crushed red pepper, recently placed second in Flavored Goudas with a score of 99.175 at the 2023 United States Championship Cheese Contest.

Honey Hot Gouda was selected by consumers following a nationwide vote to “Choose The Next Roth Cheese.”

The crowd-sourcing campaign set out to take cheesemaking “out of the creamery and into the hands of cheese fans,” Wentz said.

The other two winners, in addition to Honey Hot, were Spinach Artichoke and Buffalo Ranch.

Sweet heat, feta version

Odyssey Sweet Heat Feta has a traditional feta cheese taste but adds a little extra spicy sweet flavor to make the taste “all flow together nicely,” according to Odyssey.

Odyssey Sweet Heat Feta comes in 4-ounce and 6-ounce crumble containers and in 6-ounce chunks.

The cheese’s honors include a First Place at the World Championship Cheese Contest and top awards at American Cheese Society and Wisconsin State Fair competitions.

A new spin on cheddar

Kretschmar’s Sweet Heat Cheddar ships in 7-ounce chunks and can be found at Gourmet Foods International, Albertsons, Safeway, Pavilions, Randalls, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Instacart and other retailers. Hand-crafted by Wisconsin Cheesemakers, the Kretschmar line of gourmet cheeses “possess the most refined textures and finest flavors,” according to the company, which has produced premium Wisconsin cheeses and deli meats since 1883.

Sweet heat cheese board perfection

From legendary chef David Chang and his restaurant chain Momofuku comes the perfect sweet heat accompaniment for cheese boards. Momofuku Chili Crunch Hot Honey, now available at Whole Foods and other grocers, combines Momofuku's cult-favorite spicy-crunchy chili oil with premium wildflower honey for the ultimate in sweet heat. Cheese boards are a perfect fit, but so are pizzas and roasted meats and veggies.

"Expect a gentle heat without sacrificing the intensity of flavor that Momofuku is known for," the company said.

This article is an excerpt from the February 2024 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. You can read the entire Sweet Heat feature and more in the digital edition here.