In Japan around 1980’s before I was born, extreme spicy food from foreign countries became popular among the people. Japanese people use chili pepper as accent for tastes and they never had extreme spicy foods like the one in Southeast Asia. This can also be seen in the US dietary culture where people started consuming Mexican foods like tacos.
After many years the chili peppers that are used in spicy food has spread around the world from Mexico. However there were ethnic groups that took in chili pepper into their food culture and others that did not. In the late 16th century the chili peppers were brought into the Far East where Japan and Korea are located. Unlike Japan, Korea used chili pepper in their national food Kimchi that are still loved by the people.
Then what is the reason why spicy food has recently gain its popularity. The study by Paul Rozin a professor in University of Pennsylvania tells us about why people like spicy foods. The reason why people started the habit of eating chili pepper is from the environment and life style in the area such as to increase appetite when its hot and to increase body temperature when its cold. In cases like Japan however, people started consuming spicy food because of the penetration of urban-type life style and people started to enjoy the sensational flavor. In modern society with lots of stress people tend to demand for more stimulation.