Get ready to throw your Scoville scales away: a new pepper has turned up to change the game. For context, the Scoville scale is a measurement of the spicy heat given off by chilli peppers/ spicy food, calibrated by recording the concentration of an active substance found in all peppers, capsaicin.
When we feel the fieryness in our mouths, this is the Capsaicin reacting to the specific protein (trpv1) responsible for triggering the typical responses to temperature.
The scale starts off with bell peppers, giving off zero Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Not too far up the scale from bell peppers you have jalapeños, giving off 3,500-10,000 SHU, this is also the typical range for your Tabasco sauce.
Cayenne is at 30,000-50,000, Piri Piri is at 50,000-100,000 and the Scotch bonnet pepper ends the scale for what I consider the normal range of peppers, at 100,000-350,000 SHU.
Beyond that, you enter a territory that only the brave venture, the type of peppers that are so impossibly hot, you sometimes have to sign a waiver when eating it. The Red Savina habanero is just one of the many horrifying peppers on the scale, measuring in anywhere between 350,000-580,000 SHU.
The top of the scale has the Ghost Pepper, the Infinity Chilli and the Komodo Dragon chilli pepper (what cool names though, right?). Until very recently, the pepper with the most Scoville Heat Units was the Carolina Reaper, coming in at 1.5 million units.
Unveiled at the 2017 Chelsea Flower Show (I guess you could call peppers flowers, right?) in London, the Dragon Breath pepper measured a face-melting 2.4 million Scoville Heat Units. That’s similar wattage to what the US use in their military pepper spray (roughly 2 million SHU).
Unsurprisingly, it has been categorized as military grade hot, and you are not allowed to eat it.
Dragon Breath was created by gardener Mike Smith, with the help of some researchers at Nottingham Trent University. They warn that eating this pepper could lead to a lot more than an upset stomach and several unpleasant visits to the bathroom.
Smith told the press that researchers from the University cautioned that eating Dragon’s Breath could cause anaphylactic shock in some people. It can also cause numbness of the mouth for an average of two days, regardless of how much milk you drown yourself in. It is not worth the viral video at all, trust me.
As of now, you can’t even buy it for consumption. It has been cultivated for medicinal purposes. The attributes of the pepper work in a way that when applied to the skin it can strongly numb an area. As a large number of people are allergic to anaesthetic, it could prove very useful as a substitute.
The oil from the new pepper would prove very useful as a cheap alternative to anaesthesia in developing countries.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the Dragon Breath pepper. I stress again, though: you cannot, and should not, eat this stuff. It is not worth the pain.