Hot chili peppers have the best names. They sound dangerous and vaguely threatening. A warning for those stupid enough to actually try and eat one, if you will. “It’s not like we didn’t warn you,” they seem to say.
The previous record-holder for hottest chili in the world, the ominous-sounding Carolina Reaper, has had to officially move aside to make way for the aptly monikered Dragon’s Breath chili – a chili so hot no one has actually eaten it yet, for fear it could kill you. How? By literally burning your airways, as if you were breathing fire.
Rather charmingly, the creator of this spicy beast didn’t even set out to break records. Mike Smith, a fruit grower and competitive show-gardener from Denbighshire in Wales, was aiming for an aesthetically pleasing chili tree to enter into the UK's famous Chelsea Flower Show, where it is now in the running for Plant of the Year.
“It was a complete accident but I’m chuffed to bits – it’s a lovely looking tree,” Mr Smith told the Telegraph.
The chili was, however, grown in collaboration with scientists from Nottingham Trent University, who are interested in the medicinal use of chilis as an anesthetic. It was they who verified that the Dragon’s Breath scored the highest rating ever recorded on the Scoville heat scale, 2.48 million, beating the rival Reaper, which measures 2.2 million.
The Scoville scale measures the intensity of heat in units. The 2.48 million Scoville heat units (SHU) means that one drop of oil from this chili can be detected in 2.48 million drops of water, making it basically weapons-grade hot. For comparison, pepper spray used by the US Army is 2 million SHU.
The scientists believe that if you tried to actually eat this chili, your airways would likely close up from the burn and you’d go into anaphylactic shock and die. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a force for good, not evil.
The capsaicin oil from it is so potent it numbs the skin, giving it excellent potential as an anesthetic, especially for those allergic to painkillers, or even for use in developing countries where access to and funding for anesthetics is limited.
“I’ve tried it on the tip of my tongue and it just burned and burned," Smith said. "I spat it out in about 10 seconds. The heat intensity just grows.”
Smith is currently waiting for the Guinness World Records to verify his world champion, but in the meantime, if anyone offers it to you, I'd err on the side of caution and just say no.
[H/T: The Telegraph]