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FMNH: I feel like my face is melting off. These are great.

Back when I lived in New Mexico, we used to be amused by the expressions of tourists when they tried the local chili dishes -- expressions of shock and horror, followed by frantic slurps of ice water. But those weren't really hot at all, just our normal Hatch green chilis (known as Anaheim outside of New Mexico, but we never called them that). Hatch chili is just about right for inducing a rush of endorphins, without actually doing harm. My whole family is addicted.

New Mexico -- so it is said -- produces 90% of the nations chili crop, and consumes 90% of what is produced. We measure hotness on the Scoville scale, which gives the dilution factor that must be applied in order to render the key ingredient (capsaicin) undetectable by a human tongue. I looked up the rating of the Caribbean Red Habenero, and discovered that, while much hotter than my old familiar Hatch (Anaheim) chili, it is far from the hottest:

Pepper Type Scoville Rating
Bell pepper 0
Pimento 100-900
Anaheim 1000-2500
Jalapeño 3500-8000
Serrano 10,000-23,000
Tabasco 30,000-50,000
Habanero 100,000-350,000
Red Savina 350,000-580,000
Naga Viper 850,000-1,500,000
Trinidad Moruga 1.5m - 2m
Pure capsaicin 16m

That last pepper (Trinidad Moruga "Scorpion") has the same rating as police-grade pepper spray.

To get even higher ratings, you have to use compounds other than capsaicin. Resiniferatoxin, for example, has a Scoville rating of 16 billion. Now that's hot.

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