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A century ago, a brave Connecticut-based pharmacist, Wilbur Scoville, dared to eat every hot pepper in order to create a scale that measured their pungency (level of spicy-hot).
After eating a hot pepper, he would analyze how the pepper had made him feel—would it make him tear up? Make his tongue burn for hours? And then he would write it all down and assign it a number, or Scoville heat unit (SHU). Like we said: brave.
Make it Hot, Hot, Hot:
Today's Scoville Scale ranges from the bell pepper at 0 to the Carolina Reaper, which can have an SHU of 2,200,000 (that's up to twice as hot as a Ghost Pepper!).
Scoville Heat Units
- 1,600,000 – 2,200,000: Carolina Reaper
- 855,000 – 2,200,000: Bhut Jolokia (ghost pepper)
- 100,000 – 350,000: Habanero
- 100,000 – 225,000: Bird's eye
- 30,000 – 50,000: Cayenne
- 10,000 – 23,000: Serrano pepper
- 3,500 – 10,000: Jalapeño
- 100 – 900: Banana pepper and Peperoncini, Pimento
- 0: Bell pepper
And, as Google's doodle celebrated today, it's also his 151st birthday! Add to that NPR's report this morning that Hillary Clinton attributes her health on the campaign trail to eating a fresh hot pepper every day and you have the perfect excuse to pack on the spice. If there were ever a day to add an extra shake of Tabasco sauce (SHU of 30,000), today would be it.
Do you love spicy food or avoid it at all costs? Tell us in the comments below!