Like good jalapeno peppers, letters from Southwestern soldiers in the Middle East lonely for some hot sauce are enough to bring a tear to the eye.

"I am desperate," wrote Army Staff Sgt. James A. Miller of the 82nd Airborne Division. "San Antonio is my home and Pace Picante sauces are on my table all the time. And if you could spare a few quarts, this paratrooper would be grateful."San Antonio-based Pace Foods Inc. obliged by sending 2,000 bottles of the spicy sauce to troops in the Persian Gulf, but the letters from soldiers tired of bland military chow keep coming in.

One letter from a soldier was enclosed with picture of six GIs holding four empty hot sauce bottles upside down.

The company's top executive said the mouth-burning sauce even could help military men and women somehow beat the Saudi Arabian heat.

"Nobody knows for sure, but a lot of people think chili peppers cool the body by making it perspire more," said R.J. Sands, Pace's president and chief executive officer. "That's why people in warm climates eat more chilies."