The World’s Hottest Chili

Posted on February 5, 2008  Comments (6)

The World’s Hottest Chili:

The standard measure for such things is the Scoville Heat Unit, or SHU, named after Wilbur Lincoln Scoville, a chemist who in 1912 developed a method of assessing the heat given off by capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers. Jalapeño peppers measure about 5,000 SHUs. The bhut jolokia tops a million.

Food scientists speculate that hot chilies have an unexpected side effect that boosts their popularity. A publication of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in New York described it this way: “When capsaicin comes into contact with the nerve endings in the tongue and mouth, pain messengers, called neurotransmitters, are sent to the brain in a panic. The brain, mistakenly perceiving that the body is in big trouble, responds by turning on the waterworks to douse the flames. The mouth salivates, the nose runs and the upper body breaks into a sweat. The heart beats faster and the natural painkiller endorphin is secreted. In other words, you get a buzz.”

Related: Frozen ImagesEat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

6 Responses to “The World’s Hottest Chili”

  1. No name provided
    February 5th, 2008 @ 4:19 pm

    My teenage son had several friends over for band practice and then dinner. My son’s girlfriend brought over some dried red chili peppers. You should have seen the testosterone kick in as each kid had to try these peppers and what a reaction. Tears, immediate need for milk…etc. It was hilarious. I am sending them all this link.
    This is a very interesting blog. My son who wants to be an engineer will enjoy it. i will encourage him to make it a regular read.
    he hasn’t decided what type of engineer he wants to be yet. He is veering towards chemical, biochemical or metallurgical.

  2. Tracy
    February 6th, 2008 @ 7:37 am

    I love growing several varieties of hot peppers in my garden every year! They do such a great job of adding flavor to your food, without adding any bad effects to your body. My mother is on a low salt diet, and peppers have made this not only bearable but enjoyable.

  3. Ernesto
    February 9th, 2008 @ 11:23 pm

    Before, it is the Philippines’ red chili peppers that’s the hottest. I am not sure now, maybe from Mexico? Still, I put chili peppers in almost all of my food, makes it more great to eat. Yum!

  4. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Science Sortof Explains: Hiccups
    August 17th, 2008 @ 4:30 pm

    “Although there’s often no clear cause for a bout of hiccups, some factors that can trigger acute or transient hiccups include: Eating spicy food…”

  5. Anonymous
    October 16th, 2008 @ 3:56 am

    i have tried one of these peppers and boy are they hot! the supermarket chain tesco (the UK equivalent to Wallmart) have started selling what they call a Dorset Naga, a variety that is derived from the bhut jolokia – i wonder how many people buy it thinking it is just a regular chili pepper!

  6. Scott Roberts
    December 29th, 2008 @ 1:13 pm

    Naga/Bhut jolokias are killer. The only way I can eat one is to take the tiniest nibbles and wait about 2 minutes in between each bite. (Eating it with milk or ice cream does help.)

    Here’s a full list of Scoville Scale ratings for various hot peppers and hot sauces:

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