Title of world's hottest chili pepper stolen - again

It's been a fiery battle for the top spot, but now a grower in the UK has been offically recognized by the Guinness World Records for having the hottest chili in the world.

After enjoying the Guinness title for about two weeks, the Infnity Chilli was officially dethroned by Gerald Fowler's Naga Viper chili on February 25.

It was a short-lived reign at the top for Nick Woods's Infinity Chilli. After months of conflicting reports pitting one chili over the other, Fowler can now say with certainty that his venomously hot pepper is the reigning champion - for now anyway.

The Naga Viper beat the Infinity Chilli by 240,000 Scoville Heat Units, clocking in at 1.3 million on the heat meter. It's been described as "hot enough to strip paint." Fowler said he received news of his title early this week.

The Scoville scale measures the capsaicin content in the chili, the substance that gives peppers their kick. To put the scale in perspective, the jalapeño pepper measures between 2,500 and 8,000 SHU.

Curiously, competitors for the title of hottest chili are both from the UK, as Woods, who owns Fire Foods, hails from Grantham in Lincolnshire.

Fowler, who owns The Chilli Pepper Company, said it was his first foray into the Guinness World Records and credited Cumbria's weather for his new breed of chili.

"We're absolutely, absolutely chuffed," Fowler told Relaxnews. "Everyone complains about the weather and rain here in Cumbria, but we think it helped us breed the hottest chili."

Meanwhile, both the Naga Viper and the Infinity Chilli trounced the longstanding Bhut Jolokia from India, which enjoyed the title for a few years.

The Indian army even announced plans to deploy their Bhut Jolokia as a weapon: harness the heat of the chili, put it in a tear gas or hand grenade, and immobilize the enemy bloodlessly.

So, just how hot are the chilies? In a YouTube video, a kamikaze chili fanatic pops a full Infinity pepper in his mouth and enters phases which alternate between hiccups, tears, numbness, pain and eventual chili euphoria. In other words, it makes grown men cry.

"It's a slow burner," Woods said of his variety. "It doesn't get you instantly but the fire will burn for an hour and sit in your belly. Then your stomach will hurt for the rest of the day."

The husband and wife team took their defeat well, and wife Zoe even admitted it came as a relief.

"We've had 600 orders in the last three or four days," she said. "I, for one, am happy to hand over the baton to someone else."

What used to be a modest family operation bottling and labeling jars of chili, chutney and curry sauces from their home kitchen, has in a few short days turned into an international enterprise drawing in orders from the US, South Africa, Brazil and Sweden. Normally, at this time of year, the couple prepares 25-40 orders for their company, she said.

Similarly, Fowler has received orders for 5,000 of his Naga Viper Chilli sauce from around the world, and has a waiting list of 1,200 for his seeds.

A common theory on how to test the heat meter on the jalapeno peppper - one of the most popular chilies for the home cook - is to check for thin white stripes that run lengthwise down the chili, also known as corking. That's supposed to indicate that the pepper is more mature and packs more heat. Woods also says to watch out for chilies with lumpy, bumpy skin, which indicates heat.




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