Seven Shocking Facts About Kadena Chilis

by Aaron Finch

The Kadena Chilis are the world’s hottest chili peppers. They were bred by hot sauce manufacturer, Tony DeMarco and have been judged to be over 2 million Scoville units. The only way to make them more spicy is not eating them – they’re too hot even when pickled in vinegar. They are so spicy, they would burn your mouth off if you swallowed them! The Kadena chilis has a home on every street corner of some streets in Korea where it is grown specifically for use on barbecues and stews, making it the main ingredient in kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables).


It looks like the Guinness Book of World Records has finally come around to recognizing this amazing pepper as the hottest in the world. It will be an official record starting with the 2004 edition, but Chilis that were produced this year will be allowed to compete for the title. In fact, it was announced on December 10, 2003 from London that a “Korean farmer has grown chillies with a higher concentration of capsaicin than ever before.” (That’s capsaicin – not Scoville units.


Seven Shocking Facts About Kadena Chilis :

1. What is the Scoville Scale?


The Scoville Scale (developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912) measures how much a chili pepper’s heat can be measured. It was named after the man who invented it. The scale today is logarithmic, which means that a pepper with a rating of 500,000 has 10 times the heat of one with 50,000 on it. So while they are both very hot, one is “twice” as hot as the other.

 2. How Hot Are They?


The range for peppers is from zero up to around 5 million units (or even more), however in practical terms, the highest known rating is around 2 million units. The dosages can vary a little from one lab to another, but if you go by the Scoville Scale, a poblano pepper from New York is around 1 million units. The peppers from South Korea range from 1 million to 2 million – at least according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The highest known, recorded at the University of New Mexico’s Agricultural Research Center, was a Kadena chili pepper that reached 2.51 million units, still local to the town of North Korea (probably not in the home garden of Mr. DeMarco).

3. The “Big Three”


Although they were named after their birthplace in North Korea (the Korean People’s Democratic Republic), they are grown all over the world and are available in markets everywhere. The “big three” peppers – Cayenne, Arbol and Tabasco come in at around 1 million units. If you want to get an idea of how hot these are, try a little on your tongue: then look for the nearest wall and shy away from it.

4. Are They Hotter Than the Pepper Spray Police Use?


The short answer is yes, they are (you are not pepper-sprayed, but you feel like it). The long answer is no, because of two reasons: 1) the Scoville scale is only about how much heat the brain can feel and 2) Pepper is a powder and would be mixed in with water to make a spray. Let’s face it – you wouldn’t want to touch pepper spray with your tongue!  

5. Can I Eat Them?


Do you really want to? No matter how hard you try, according to some of Tony DeMarco’s workers in Korea (who eat them daily), they will “burn your mouth off” (the pain is so great, you won’t be able to feel anything else). All the chemicals in the peppers act as an irritant and the mucous membranes in your mouth will swell up.


6. Why Is It So Hot?


The heat in peppers is measured by its content of soluble, hot alkaloids called capsaicinoids. They’re found in placental tissue and are actually quite harmless by themselves. When they come into contact with other living tissue like your tongue and lips, however, it’s a whole ‘nother story! The more active ingredients there are in a chili pepper, the hotter it’s going to be.

7. The Most Elaborate Pepper Ever


The scoville scale was originally based on peppers (but it doesn’t have anything to do with scoville heat units). The world’s hottest pepper, The Naga Jolokia (Ghost Pepper), has had its Scoville rating increased from 5 million to 8 million – a 3300% increase. One of the reasons for this is that the peppers are still being grown in the H1N1 lab and they will soon start to cross breed. The current version is around 5500 to 6000 units and most experts believe that in 10 years, it will be 2 to 3 times as hot as it is today.

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