Top athletes are always looking to up their game. Whether it means beating a best time, climbing a higher mountain, getting more points or simply overcoming a new obstacle, they know there’s always room for a new first place. It makes sense, then, that one of America’s hottest products is continually in a race to the top itself. This one has to do with bragging rights, and when it comes to measuring the hottest of the hot, the top notch of the Scoville scale is the prize. It’s a way to track the spicy, sometimes earth-shattering heat of a pepper. The scale measures the concentration of capsaicin in a pepper based on Scoville Heat Units, or rather SHU. The higher up on the scale, the hotter the pepper.
At the very bottom is the bell pepper, while scorching hot peppers burn at the very top. About a decade ago the Bhut Jolokia, most commonly called the ghost pepper, took on the role of the hottest chili pepper in the world. Then, along came the Naga Viper pepper, a sometimes-disputed record holder and hybrid that hit new heights on the scale. Moving up even higher is the fiery hot Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper. Traced to Trinidad, the extremely hot pepper is crazy hot. Not to be outdone, though, along came the Carolina Reaper. Currently held up as the hottest pepper in the world, the insanely hot Reaper is said to peak at more than 2-million SHU!
These days, pepper growers and hot food makers are in a constant race for the top slot, using some of the hottest hot peppers in the world to produce everything from hot sauce to mind-boggling pepper extracts. There’s seemingly no end in sight when it comes to scaling, and possibly even surpassing, the top of the scale once again.