Ghost Pepper

Do we really need Even-Hotter Peppers?

Seems some scientific types have cracked the hot pepper genome. That, they say, means that, through genetic engineering, we might be able to create even-hotter peppers than Nature and some determined cross-breeders have already wrought. But do we really need them?

Ghost Pepper
Naga Bhut Jolokia – the famous Ghost Pepper – in its natural state.
Why do we need anything hotter, for Heaven’s sake?

My answer? Three words: Naga Bhut Jolokia. That’s the hottest naturally-occurring pepper in Creation and it clocks in a over 1,000,000 Scoville Units in heat. That’s about a million times hotter than a plain old Green Bell Pepper and almost that much hotter than a common Jalapeno. They call it The Ghost Pepper, because it just might kill you if you eat too much of it!

Even hotter than the Jalapeno is the so-called Scotch Bonnet, or Habanero Pepper. It’s a mere tenth the heat of the Ghost Pepper, and most folks find it it too much to take. I privately wonder if those who eat it are just showing off their ability to take punishment and win bragging rights, or if they’re stuck paying off a bar bet. Whatever.

So why on Earth do we need even-hotter peppers?

Pepper-maniacs just have to push the envelope

When asked why they did something extreme, people who climb big mountains and seek to break speed records always say, “Because it’s there!” or some equivalent expression. I always respond to that with a wry, “Guess they have more money and time than brains!” Then, I add, “Why do we have to go ever faster, higher and bigger?”

Look at all the horrific accidents during and even during qualifying rounds the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi. People pushed the envelope farther than their physical resources could go – bet more than their personal accounts could afford to lose – all to try to win some kind of acclaim or set some record that might be broken in the next minute, or the next hour, or the next day by someone else.

Okay. I’m getting off track, here…

But my point (if you’re totally confused by now) is that we should be content with that which is adequate, or even more than adequate for human needs and wants – rather than go for the super-human, which is what always happens in competitive scenarios.

Heat for the sake of heat is just crazy. I’m not afraid to court the ire of hot pepper fans and those who have some career or personal financial stake in creating even hotter peppers. My desire is to promote the cause of the healthy, flavourful and realistic use of hot peppers for the furtherance of pleasure – not the aggrandizement of pepper-maniacs seeking a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

I’ll leave the phenomenon of competitive eating to another day and another post. But I will go there. Count on it.

And, in the meantime, follow the advice of the liquor and beer makers when ordering hot pepper concoctions: Enjoy Responsibly!

~ Maggie J.