Will the world’s Hottest Pepper Please Stand Up?

So today I logged onto the computer to discover that the Smithsonian had published a “World’s Hottest Pepper” article; http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/food/2013/01/how-hot-is-that-pepper-unpacking-the-scoville-scale. I don’t normally get all up in arms over people republishing findings of a single University as if it were fact, but since the Lancet’s reveal that they had published junk science on vaccinations and autism that had doctors and researchers alike stripped of their credentials, I’ve started taking a stricter stance on what “science” we’re going to use to dictate our business.

I know that sounds weird, but when you’re doing something like marketing chili peppers for a living, you have to have science backing your rhetoric or you end up looking like you don’t know what you’re doing. I’m the sort of person who cringes when someone cites incorrect information, so imagine how I am about scientific findings.

What we know as “fact” at Peppermaster:

  1. The Chile Pepper Institute of New Mexico University claims that their tests repeatedly show that the Moruga tests at the 2,000,000 shu heat level repeatedly
  2. We were unlucky enough to get nailed by the US farming drought last season and did not benefit from reception of the Moruga Scorpion.
  3. The world’s hottest chili pepper since March 1, 2011, Guinness world record holder is indeed STILL the Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T”.
  4. Only the Chile Pepper Institute has run the HPLC test (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) required to determine the heat of the Moruga Scorpion
  5. We have seen the results of tests on the Dorset Naga chili that tell us that the super-hot chili peppers can indeed hit 1.6 million SHUs.
  6. The Chile Pepper Institute, and anyone else who HAS these peppers, should have an independent duplicate the HPLC test that confirms the Moruga as the World’s Hottest Pepper.
  7. According to my research, any first year science student is capable of running an HPLC test.

I don’t want to take away from the great science that the Chile Pepper Institute is bringing to the world but once upon a time scientific studies needed to be duplicated BY SOMEONE ELSE before they were accepted as Scientific fact. Maybe I’m a cynic, maybe I just like science to be scientific? From where I sit, if the Moruga is indeed “consistently” hitting the 2,000,000 SHU mark, then it’s a simple matter of 1. getting someone else to do the test or 2. surviving Guinness’ overly stringent requirements to gain the World Record. If you’d like to see a copy of the “hoops” that one has to jump through in order to get the Guinness, do send me an email.

I’m in marketing, I sell stuff, hot sauce specifically. So, when a customer comes to me and asks for the World’s Hottest Pepper, what can I do? Most people have never heard of the Chile Pepper Institute, most people don’t care who Dr. Paul Bosland is. But everyone we’ve ever sold hot sauce to has known who Guinness is, and frankly, in their eyes, if the Guinness’ says its’ the world’s hottest pepper, and there is a hotter pepper, since it’s FREE to do so, why hasn’t the “consistently hits 2,000,000 SHU” Moruga Scorpion successfully usurped the Butch T?

Dunno… That’s a question for the Scientists at the University of New Mexico (Chile Pepper Institute) and the Smithsonian.

I’ll also add that it wasn’t just the junk science that irked me in this article, the typos were more annoying!

When you read the article, ignore the typos and as for the fact that the science is unduplicated yet? Once it is, the science will be good. As of the writing of this article, the Worlds’ Hottest Pepper title still belongs to the Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” but the Moruga, like the Dorset Naga, are both capable of winning the title, as are about a dozen other super-hot Chili Peppers with equally funky names.

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