Had we simply read the fine print, we’d have known that a chemist named Wilbur Scoville developed a scale to measure hot peppers back in 1912. And he was an American guy, for crying out loud.
His “SHU’s” (Scoville Heat Units), measuring the piquancy of peppers, hinge on the subjective findings of five “tasters.”
Creeping into current use is the “Gillett Method” that measures heat HPLC: “high pressure liquid chromatography.” These findings easily convert to SHU’s.
I’ve told more than I know, except to warn there are many more details.
The print gets finer and finer.
You wanna talk about hot? Next time something breaks and you make the “SOS” repair call, expect it to be out-sourced to India. If you’re fortunate enough to reach someone who speaks English, ask about THEIR peppers. Your ears will burn with the braggin’ about India’s REALLY hot peppers.
I mean, Bombay’s world-class peppers are smokin’, reducing our pepper pods to comparative whipped cream.
We shouldn’t be surprised. Hot peppers were on Christopher Columbus’ “wish list.” After his pepper-fetching mission, the hot stuff was strewn around several other countries when he got back.
Consider this: India has a pepper called “Naga Jolokia,” the hottest in the world with 1,040,000 SHU’s. This is about 120 times hotter than Tabasco sauce with more than 300 times as much fire as our jalapeños.
Any hotter and they convert it to self-defense spray.
The Red Savina Habanero, former Guinness record holder first grown in South America, now ranks a pale second to the Naka Jolokia at 575,000 SHU’s.
Wake the town and tell the people. We’ve got to “get crackin’” on this pepper crisis. For starters, we need to concoct chili hot enough to make Aggies sing the War Hymn backwards. We are the laughing stock of the pepper world.