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Food Roundup

December 14, 2007

Scientists identify the world’s hottest chili pepper.


The world’s hottest pepper. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
New Mexico State University is the definitive hotbed of research into the chili pepper. And in conclusive tests of hot pepper heat, they found that the Bhut Jolokia pepper of India is the world’s hottest. Pepper heat is measured in "Scoville Units" and the Bhut Jolokia generates over a million Scoville units—almost twice as hot as previous record holder, the Red Savina. A single seed from the Bhut Jolokia causes intense pain for over 30 minutes.
Well, the Aztecs used to mix hot peppers into their cocoa drinks, for some truly hot chocolate. Now archaeologists have found the Aztecs were enjoying the drink much earlier than was thought. Chemical analysis of ancient pottery has found traces of cocoa compounds in pots dating back to 1150 BC—a half century older than previous estimates. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.