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Your lifestyle, your quirk
For reasons I will never understand, some people just love spicy food. The hottest foods are seen as a challenge, and dealing with the tears, runny nose, and pain that comes with a high Scoville rating becomes a personal mission. Maybe it’s the “crack-like rush” Jim Duffy, a pepper grower in San Diego, claims some people get from the fiery effects of the peppers. Adam Richman, the man behind Man vs. Food and current host of Man vs. Food Nation, entertained viewers by taking on spicy food challenges at restaurants all over the country. In case you want to follow in his footsteps, or if you’ve grown tired of your suicide-level Buffalo wings and side dishes of chili peppers, here are some of the hottest foods currently known to man.
The Bhut Jolokia used to be the hottest pepper in the world. It was given the title by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2007 before another, even hotter pepper was discovered. The Bhut Jolokia, also referred to as the Naga Bhut Jolokia or the ghost pepper, grows in northeastern India and rural parts of Sri Lanka. Its heat is described as “exceptionally hot” and has a Scoville rating ranging from 330,000 to 1,000,000. That’s 400 times the heat of Tabasco sauce. Gizmodo reveals that the ghost pepper can still be hot enough to make you vomit blood. And people still consume it?
A pepper that hot is too painful to include in most recipes, but the Bhut Jolokia has some uses. It’s so hot that India’s Defense Research and Development Organization has looked into using it as a weapon. In 2009, the organization announced plans to use Bhut Jolokia in grenades for non-lethal raids on terrorists and in an aerosol spray for self-defense. Regular old pepper spray is bad enough – imagine ghost pepper spray. The pepper is also rubbed on fences to keep elephants away. At least one mammal knows to stay away from something so painful.
Last February, a new pepper was crowned as the world’s hottest. The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper topped two million Scoville units, about twice the rating of the Bhut Jolokia. Really, what did you expect from something with “scorpion” in the name? The more important question is, if the Bhut Jolokia can make you vomit blood, what will the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion do to your insides? The Associated Press says that eating even a small portion of the pepper will induce sweat, tears, and a fiery sensation in the mouth. The sensations and heat build after taking a bite, so it may not seem so bad at first, though anyone who chooses to eat one of the golf ball-sized peppers will soon face intense burning. Researchers who were testing the heat of this pepper versus other extremely hot peppers had to wear four pairs of latex gloves: the peppers were so strong that the capsaicin in each one could penetrate the gloves and the researchers’ skin.
In 2011, one man in Rock Hill, South Carolina, tried to grow the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion in his backyard. While testing the fruits of his labor, four of the six people who tried to eat some of his peppers threw up. When writer Marshall Terry of WFAE tried one of the peppers, he claims to have hallucinations and posted a video of the effects online. Ed Currie, the pepper farmer, says that when you eat one of his peppers, “Your heart will race, you’ll sweat. You might shake, you might throw up. But once it gets in your blood stream and gets in your brain the capsaicin releases the same endorphins that narcotics do. So you get a euphoric feeling.”
Hot peppers aren’t just turned into sauces and weapons; their heat has been incorporated into vodka by Masters of Malt. Naga Chili Vodka has 100,000 Scovilles, as much as a Habanero. It’s so intense that each bottle comes with a disclaimer the size of a paragraph and a public service announcement video that warns of the intensity. The alcohol maker has created a new 250,000-Scoville beverage that will hit liquor store shelves next October. To create the burning vodka, distillers soak dried Naga Bhut Jolokia peppers in 80-proof wheat vodka. It’s so strong that the makers must wear gas masks when dealing with it. No, really: creator Ben Ellefsen told Gizmodo that the precaution had to be taken. One brave Gizmodo writer tested out the soon-to-be-released alcohol to report on its heat. After psyching himself up, Brent Rose took a straight shot and doesn’t recommend it to others. Milk, raw sugar, crackers, and water didn’t offer relief. He ended up throwing up, but not before feeling dizzy and like a hallucinogen was setting in.
Not matter how the effects are described, I am still not convinced I want to burn my taste buds off to feel the “euphoric” effect of these crazy hot peppers and vodka. On top of the weird hallucinogenic effects, the burning, vomiting (which Rose assures readers is spicy on the way back up), and all of the other not-so-fun stuff, there are always…other…after-effects. Currie has started a hot sauce company that he named Pucker Butt. It’s the “description of what happens to you if you eat one of his peppers.” That right there is enough reason to stay away from anything with tens of thousands of Scovilles.