Posted August 19, 2005 by Nick Lindauer in Hot Sauce News

Why the Word Scoville is Important

I now know why the word Scoville is important
By Scott Mims

It was more drama than Scoville units.

For those who don’t know, the Scoville heat scale ranks peppers by how “hot” they are, with the jalapeno pepper ranking number four (250,000 units) and the habanero pepper ranking as the hottest pepper in the world (350,000 units).

My cousin, Kellen, had borrowed a small bottle of hot sauce from a friend who had purchased it while on a trip to Mexico. On the front of the bottle was a picture of a bomb and words that read “Ground Zero.”

He said the sauce was hotter than a habanero pepper. This immediately caught my attention, because I had read in Reader’s Digest that there was no pepper hotter than the habanero. The author of the article, whose name escapes me, said he tried a few slithers of the pepper on a potato and after just one bite, his head felt like it was floating off of his body.

As I recalled this information, something in me said, “You might want to think twice about this one.”

I read the ingredients on the bottle, which explained how extracts from habaneros were scientifically altered somehow to make them 50…or a hundred…or (insert ridiculously long number here) however many times hotter than the hottest pepper on the face of God’s green earth.

Kellen then went on to describe how he had dipped the tip of a toothpick in some of the sauce caught in the cap that screws on top of the bottle. He said when he ate it; it set his whole mouth on fire.

He then proceeded to hand me a toothpick, and I couldn’t resist following suite.

“Look at it,” he said; referring to the fraction of a drop of the hottest sauce in the world I had on the end of my toothpick. “It’s death.”

I stared at the dark red – nearly black – substance for what seemed like an eternity. We would both laugh for a minute and then I would try to bring it closer to my tongue.

Then I went for it. As soon as I had rubbed all the sauce onto my tongue, I immediately began to spread it throughout my mouth so all the heat wouldn’t be concentrated in one place.

Then I waited a few seconds.

“Oh my gosh!” I yelled as a fire alarm went off in my brain. Kellen was rolling laughing. But myself being a lover of peppers, I loved the taste even though the heat was the hottest I had felt in my life.

If you’ve ever had a similar experience, you know the feeling you get when it’s over – kind of like you’ve climbed Mt. Everest or something.

But my bragging rights faded this week when a coworker told me about a sauce that measures several million Scoville units – so hot you have to have a gas mask to pour it.

Anybody know where you can find a good gas mask?

Note: Scott Mims is a news writer for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Friday.

How do these people get published? The lack of education in this article scares me…
250,000 Scoville units from a Jalapeno? Someone inserted two too many zeros, but what about the #4 on the heat scale comment? Give me a break! Amateurs

Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog