Sriracha may be a bit on the hot side, but it’s an easily-acceptable way to add some heat to your food. Tabasco and other hot sauces trade in cream and flavor for more of a direct heat, and beyond a few splashes on your pizza, it’s all just a bit of sting. Hot wings might be as hot as you’d want to go, especially when restaurants bring out “death” flavors, promising that you’ll be in pain until you take a swig of milk or drench the wings in ranch.
There’s a new heat rising from South Carolina that’ll make anything you’ve ever had seem like a walk in the park. The Associated Press reports that the Carolina Reaper is now the known hottest pepper on Earth, after four years of trying to Ed Currie trying to prove it. It’s bumpy, bright red, and oily, and packs a heat nearly as strong as police-issued pepper spray. Their heat was certified at Winthrop University by students who test food as undergraduates studies.
New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute states that “the heat of a pepper depends not just on the plant’s genetics, but also where it is grown,” so if it’s truly the hottest will be left in the air. There’s also debate if the record should be given to a single pepper or an average of a batch. The hottest batch tested was “Higher Power, Pot No. 22, Plant B”, or “HP22B”, with other peppers in other pots and plants being comparable. A batch of the Carolina Reapers comes in at 1.57 million Scoville Heat Units, with one pepper reaching 2.2 million. For comparison, a jalapeno pepper would be 5,000 on the Scoville, while pepper spray is around 2 million Scoville.
Ed Currie owns PuckerButt Pepper Company, run with about a dozen employees and sells items such as “Voodoo Prince Death Mamba” and “I Dare You Stupit”, but the attention from this record will help his company become self-sustaining.
Are you and your restaurant particularly known for amping up the heat? While Carolina Reapers might be overkill (and honestly, a health hazard that might lead to a few dangers legally and physically in the hands of non-professionals), customers have shown time and again they love to tackle the heat. There’s a reason why those “death” wings are on every chicken wing menu, why habanero hamburgers are making a statement, and why the simple Sriracha bottle has rocketed up in the everyday consumer’s consciousness.
Have you looked at ways you can focus on heat in your menu? New sauces, bases, toppings, and more might be an unconventionally spicy way to drum up business. One tip? Make sure to put some sort of indicator on your menu if dishes are particularly painfully spicy; it won’t do well for business if someone unknowingly orders the Pepper Poppers to find Carolina Reapers looking to take them out.