Archives // Subscribe // Random Article

In 1912, a pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville came up with a test to measure the spiciness of peppers.  His method used taste testers to determine how many times one needed to dilute a paper before the capsaicin — the chemical compound within peppers which makes them spicy — is indetectable.  The science behind it has since been refined, but still today, the hotness of a pepper is stated in Scoville units.  A bell pepper, which contains no capsaicin at all, has a 0 rating.  Jalapenos sit around 5,000. Serranos are approximately 25,000, and habaneros about 300,000.

Which is why if you get the Four Horseman Burger at Chunky’s Burgers in San Antonio, it may be for free.  It comes with all three of those, sure, sure — and something called the ghost chili, which rates at 1 million Scoville units.  When the burger was developed, the ghost chili (officially, the Bhut Jolokha — a name given to it by its native India) was the hottest known, but it’s since been leapfrogged in an ongoing battle to develop the hottest chili pepper out there.  But no matter — Chunky’s still offers the Four Horsemen only under a few conditions:  You have to be 18, can’t be pregnant, be in good health (and have no blood pressure issues), and sign a waiver. That’s the bad news. The good news: if you complete it in 25 minutes or fewer, and then keep it down for five minutes after without eating or drinking anything else, your burger — and a cooling glass of milk after — are on the house.

As Chunky’s owner told NPR, the ghost pepper is so hot that few make it through the challenge — only about 3% succeed — and a few times, a contestant customer has called an ambulance. Even preparing the peppers is a challenge in its own right.  Cooks wear special latex gloves to prevent them from getting any of it on their hands, as the intense burning feeling may last for days.  Leaving the chilis on the grill too long can — and has — meant an evacuation of the restaurant, as the peppers’ smell can cause a tear gas-like effect.

Which is probably why India is looking into turning the ghost chili into a hand grenade-deployed weapon.

Bonus fact: Another San Antonio restaurant, Big Lou’s Pizza, offers a ridiculously large 42″ pie.  The “Super Topping” version weighs over 20 pounds and costs over $80.  All the 42″ pies are dine-in only, though — not because Big Lou’s can’t find a box large enough, but because the pie is too large to get through the door.

From the ArchivesMcHotDogs: You won’t find ghost chilis at McDonald’s. And you won’t find hot dogs there either.  Ever wonder why?

Related: Ghost chilis – 15 for $3.99.

Originally published

NOW I KNOW is a free email newsletter of incredible things; you'll learn something new every day. Subscribe now!

NOW I KNOW is a free daily newsletter of incredible things; you’ll learn something new every day!

Written and distributed by Dan Lewis.

Click here to learn more about NOW I KNOW, or to subscribe.

Click here to see the full archives.

Click here to search the archives.

Copyright © 2010-2013 Dan Lewis. All rights reserved.

Now I Know is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Some images via Wikipedia, available for use here under a Creative Commons license, and copyright their respective owners.