The World's Hottest Chili Peppers

It’s getting cold outside, which means it’s time to start looking for ways to stay warm. You can always invest in scarves and the layering method has proven to be effective, but it’s important to remember that food can keep you warm, too. Through December 5th we’re celebrating Chili Week with hearty bowls of spiciness, so it seems like the perfect time to explore the World's Hottest Chili Peppers.

Chili peppers are measured on the Scoville scale, named after pharmacist Wilbur Scoville who invented it in 1912. This means there was a 50% chance we’d be measuring the hotness of peppers using something called the Wilbur scale. I think the right choice was made. Anyway, just to give you a frame of reference, a jalapeño pepper is about 2,000 SHU and a Serrano pepper is about 20,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units).

Bhut Jolokia – Also known as the ghost pepper, this chili is 1,000,000 SHU, or about 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. It earned its name by literally turning people into ghosts.

The Infinity Chili – The Infinity Chili comes in at about 1,100,000 SHU. It was created in England by chili breeder Nick Woods and is named for the amount of time your mouth will hurt after you eat one.

Trinidad Moruga Scorpion – The trinidad Morgua Scorpion is 1,200,000 SHU, which means it would probably be more enjoyable to just have a scorpion sting your tongue. As Paul Basland, an expert at the Chili Pepper Institute, has said, “It is quite nasty.”

Naga Viper – The Naga Viper is 1,300,000 SHU. It was briefly the hottest chili pepper in the world before being dethroned by the Carolina Reaper. The Naga Viper is actually a hybrid of three incredibly hot peppers, which means it's unable to produce identical offspring.  Each Naga Viper is unique, except for one quality:  they all taste like lava.

Carolina Reaper – Forget about what Blue Öyster Cult had to say, this is one reaper you definitely should fear.  It's the current holder of the Guinness World Record for hottest chili pepper and comes in at a whopping 2,200,000 SHU.

The hottest peppers are usually created by cross-breeding other hot peppers, so the Carolina Reaper’s hold on the top spot may not last that long. If you’re thinking of coming up with the next World’s Hottest Chili, you’ll need a catchy name. The best way to come up with a name for a hot chili pepper is to combine a territory in the Caribbean with the name of a poisonous or venomous animal. Here are some examples to help you get started:

Curaçaoan Stingray

Anguillan Black Widow

Cayman Tarantula

Magdalenan Singing Cobra

Saint Lucian Hornet With A Gun