Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Crowned World's Hottest Pepper

(Courtesy of Jim Duffy/New Mexico State University/AP Photo)

Although it might look like a sweet red pepper that spent too much time in the sun, don't be fooled by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, crowned the hottest chile pepper in the world by experts at New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute.

Director of the Chile Institute, Paul Bosland, told The Associated Press about the Scorpion, which hails from the south coast of Trinidad.

"You take a bite. It doesn't seem so bad," he said. "And then it builds and it builds and it builds. So it is quite nasty."

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion hit 1.2 million heat units on the Scoville scale compared to the mild jalapeno, which hit about 5,000 heat units.

After many inquiries from hot sauce makers as to as to which pepper was the hottest, the institute wanted to substantiate claims with science.

It planted 125 plants of Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, Trinidad Scorpion, 7-pot, Chocolate 7-pot and Bhut Jolokia, which was the previous winner.

The peppers were then dried and ground, and capsaicinoids, or the compounds that produce heat, were extracted.

"That's something that hadn't been done before," said Bosland, "Chile heat is a complex thing, and the industry doesn't like to base it on just a single fruit that's a record holder. It's too variable."

Heat-seekers, aware of the recent research, have started to look for the seeds and plants of the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.

San Diego chile pepper grower Jim Duffy told the Associated Press, "Like Cabbage Patch dolls right before Christmas or Beanie Babies, it's like the hot item."

After eating them, "people actually get a crack-like rush," he said.

The pepper is full of flavor and is a great addition to barbecue sauce,  he said.

"You'll want to eat and eat and eat," he added.

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