Food

The Dragon's Breath Pepper Is The New Hottest Chili Pepper On Earth, But Don't Eat It

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Move over, Carolina Reaper. There's a new record holder for the hottest chili pepper on Earth. The Dragon's Breath pepper is so excessively heat-packed, it's been described as "weapons-grade" hot. But this unassuming little veggie isn't for eating — it could help relieve pain, not cause it.

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Dear God, WHY?

Until May 2017, the hottest chili pepper on Earth was the Carolina Reaper, weighing in at 1.5 million units of heat on the Scoville Scale. The Dragon's Breath pepper torches that, coming in at a whopping 2.4 million units. (For context, Tabasco sauce rates a pathetic 5,000 on the Scoville Scale.) Going back to "weapons-grade", consider that U.S. military pepper sprays only hit about 2 million on the Scoville scale. Who would attempt to create such a sadistic mouth bomb?! Enter hobby grower Mike Smith, who developed the Dragon's Breath chili alongside Nottingham Trent University researchers.

We know what you're thinking: no, nobody has tried to swallow this pepper. Besides pain that few mortals have likely ever experienced, the physical effects of consuming this little plant could get really bad: Upset stomach and an unspeakably unpleasant bathroom visit would be just the start of it.

"We have had a caution from the University," Smith told the Daily Post. "It could cause anaphylactic shock in some people." Smith claims that someone took a bite of the chili without swallowing and suffered a numb mouth for two days. Although it's tempting to take this all to mean Dragon's Breath could kill you, that's a bit sensationalist and not likely at all, according to Gizmodo. (Regardless, don't sprinkle this on your pizza, kids.)

Grower Neal Price with Dragon's Breath chili plants

You Won't Feel A Thing

We'll say it again for good measure: Eating this pepper is not a thing you want to do, regardless of how viral that video would go. Sorry daredevil tasters, Dragon's Breath was developed to serve a medicinal purpose. "This was developed because a lot of people are allergic to anesthetic, and this can be applied to the skin because it is so strong it numbs it," Smith told the Daily Post. Oh yeah, the oil from this little devil is that strong. It could also be used as a cheap alternative to anesthesia in developing countries.

The Dragon's Breath made its debut at the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show in May 2017. Those plant people must be pretty picky, because the pepper didn't rank in any of the top three slots for the Plant of the Year award. Ouch, now that's a real burn.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Capsaicin is what gives peppers their heat, and it's most heavily concentrated around the tissues that connect the seeds to the pepper. 00:20

  2. Capsaicin binds to TRPV1 receptors in your mouth designed to detect hot substances. 00:46

  3. Capsaicin is a nonpolar molecule and water is a polar molecule, so it spreads capsaicin around your mouth. Milk is nonpolar, so it will dissolve capsaicin. 02:09

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