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e6492bae-bd8c-4f6a-a769-4e8d21906ef8.jpg Walmart

Walmart taps into ‘spicy’ BookTok trend

Retailer debuts limited-edition hot sauce and other romance-book tie-ins

Walmart has launched a “Spicy Summer” promotion that includes a special hot sauce collection and other initiatives that tie into the popularity of romance fantasy novels on TikTok.

These “spicy books” have emerged as one of the most popular areas of BookTok, the TikTok community where users share their favorite books.

“Customers are at the center of everything we do at Walmart, and we look to places where they are spending their time to create genuine moments of connections with them,” said Courtney Killingsworth, director of brand marketing, Walmart. “This campaign is the perfect way to reach and celebrate BookTokers and the community they thrive in.”

Walmart’s limited-edition Spicy Books Hot Sauce set, which is packaged to look like a book, includes five Melinda’s hot sauces, each corresponding to a level on the spice scale – from mild to burning — that BookTok users have applied to their hottest romance reads. The set is available online only at on a special Spicy Summer landing page for $14.98 while supplies last.

In addition to the hot sauce set, Walmart is offering spicy book-inspired merchandise, such as apparel and accessories, along with the books themselves. Items include beach towels, bucket hats, sandals, pool floats, swimwear, beauty care products, and others. Books include several “romantasy” titles by Sarah J. Maas, for example, and others from The Empyrean series by Rebecca Yarros, and several in the “friends to lovers” genre by Emily Henry.

The retailer is kicking things off with a live event on Tuesday for the BookTok community in Los Angeles that will include spicy refreshments served poolside and “immersive moments” with Spicy Summer books.

The promotion appears to be a hit on social media, with enthusiastic unboxing videos showing up on the first day of the campaign on TikTok and more than 1,000 “likes” on Instagram. Followers applauded the campaign with comments such as “This is actually kinda hilarious, I love it,” and “This is genius,” with a lot of flame and chili emojis mixed in. Of course, Paris Hilton offered her trademark approval: “That’s hot” with three flame emojis.

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