Mastering Man Food: Knowing Your Peppers

by Chris on January 4, 2011 · 70 comments

in Blog

When food and manliness intersect, two culinary staples inevitably play a role in the conversation: bacon and peppers. We’ve already covered the basics of bacon, that most venerable of proteins. Let’s take our next culinary journey into the world of peppers. Whether you’re a novice in the kitchen or a veritable iron chef, a sound knowledge of the basic varieties of peppers will pay dividends in all your culinary adventures. With a seemingly endless variety of peppers available to the average consumer, making a call on which peppers to use can sometimes be a daunting task, leaving many budding chefs feeling like there are only two safe options: jalapenos for spicy, bell peppers for not spicy. While this is a safe method, there are many other wonderful peppers out there besides the bell and the jalapeno…and what man wants to play it safe anyways? Let’s get a little adventurous, shall we?

Before you even begin to learn about the different types of peppers, you have to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of this fiery fruit. Peppers, often known for their heat, or spiciness, are ranked according to the Scoville Scale. The Scoville Scale, created by Wilbur Scoville in the early 20th century, measures the amount of capsaicin in a given species of pepper. Capsaicin is the chemical within peppers that makes them spicy. The Scoville Heat Units (or SHU) of a pepper represent the number of times the capsaicin within the pepper would have to be diluted before it would be undetectable. For example, you would have to dilute the capsaicin found in your average jalapeno 2500 times before it would seemingly have no spiciness at all, giving it a SHU rating of 2500. Let’s take a look at some of the peppers likely available at your grocer and see how they measure up:


Appearance: Bell shaped pepper about the size of a man’s fist. Colors range from green to red; yellow and orange are common as well.

Preparation: Can be served raw, grilled, pan fried, or virtually any other way. Often stuffed with meat and spices and baked.

Scoville Heat Units: 0 (Bell peppers are the only common pepper to not produce capsaicin).


Appearance: Resembles a banana in appearance, hence the name. Most often yellow, though they are sometimes served with a reddish hue.

Preparation: Commonly sliced and pickled, banana peppers go well on pizza and subs.

Scoville Heat Units: 500


Appearance: A stout, dark green pepper around 4 inches long and 2 inches wide with thick outer walls. Poblanos are also commonly available dried (then known as Ancho Chiles) which makes them appear very dark red.

Preparation: Because of its naturally thick walls and relatively mild flavor, the poblano is excellent for stuffing; they’re often used to make the popular Mexican dish, chile rellenos.  They can be easily baked, but grilling stuffed poblanos over open flame will bring out the best flavors.

Scoville Heat Units: 2000


Appearance: Fresno peppers appear green on the vine but mature to orange and eventually a deep red when fully ripe, and this is the best time to eat them. Fresno peppers are comparable to the jalapeno and will add a flash of color as a jalapeno substitute in recipes.

Preparation: A versatile pepper, these can be prepared virtually any way, including raw, with good results. The most common application for fresno peppers is chopped up in salsa or pico de gallo.

Scoville Heat Units: 5000

Anaheim Chile

Appearance: A long, light green pepper usually the length of a man’s hand or slightly longer and about two inches wide. These peppers turn red as they mature.

Preparation: Anaheim peppers, like poblanos, have thick outer walls, making them excellent for stuffing and are likewise delicious when used for chile rellenos. They’re also good in salsa and omelets.

Scoville Heat Units: 2500 but can vary between individual fruits; hotter varieties are grown in Mexico, milder ones in California.


Appearance: Easily the most popular of the chile peppers, these small, thumb-sized fruits are most often green but can appear red in the fall. They have a crisp outer shell and impart a fair amount of spiciness to any dish, particularly if the seeds are not removed during preparation.

Preparation: With jalapenos, the possibilities are endless. They can be chopped and added to salsa for an extra kick, sliced and used as a topper for your favorite sub or salad to add heat, or added to any baked, grilled, or fried dish.

Scoville Heat Units: 5000


Appearance: Habaneros are small bell shaped peppers which are green when unripe but color through the pinks and oranges to a bright red as they ripen.

Preparation: Habaneros are extremely spicy due to their high capsaicin content and are not recommended unless you have a fairly high heat tolerance for your food. They are often used to provide the spicy element to salsas and hot sauces.

Scoville Heat Units: 100,000 to 350,000


Appearance: The Serrano pepper is similar in appearance to the Anaheim, but is smaller (usually around 2 inches) and changes to orange-red as it matures.

Preparation: Often used as a substitute for jalapenos, although they impart a great deal more spiciness than their milder counterpart.

Scoville Heat Units: 25,000


Appearance: Skinny, wrinkled, and red, these peppers usually measure 6 inches long and 1 inch wide and are often referred to as devil fingers.

Preparation: Cayenne peppers feature prominently in Cajun recipes, a result of their strong flavor. They are often ground into sauces but are commonly dried or added fresh to salsas as well.

Scoville Heat Units: 60,000

Ghost Chili

Appearance: Also known as the Naga Jolokia, this juggernaut of the pepper world held the title of “worlds hottest” until recently. Cultivated in India, the Naga Jolokia usually measures between 2 ½ and 3 ½ inches and appears orange or red when ripe. The skin of the Naga Jolokia is very thin and often appears dented and wrinkly.

Preparation: When used in the western world, these peppers are mainly limited in their application to culinary challenges, providing the monster kick to overwhelmingly spicy buffalo wings or chili. Due to their extreme spiciness, chefs often wear gloves when preparing them to avoid contact burns from the capsaicin-laced oils in the pepper. Interestingly, in India and elsewhere, the peppers are frequently rubbed on fences as a fairly effective elephant deterrent. Also, there is continuing research underway to develop the ghost chili into a non-lethal weapon for crowd control. So either you can eat it or use it as a weapon! Keep that in mind before you order up those ghost chili-laced wings.

Scoville Heat Units: 850,000 to 1,000,000

Naga Viper

Appearance: The Naga Viper is a bright red pepper which is small and wrinkled in appearance. It is similar in size to the habanero, but is exponentially spicier. Created in the United Kingdom by a pub owner and pepper cultivator who mixed the Naga Jolokia with two other painfully spicy varieties, the Frankenstein-like Naga Viper was certified the world’s spiciest by Guiness in 2010.

Preparation: The Naga Viper is served in a curry at the pub owned by its creator, where customers must sign a waiver before they dig in. Other than that, it is being tested by the British Ministry of Defense.

Scoville Heat Units: 1,359,000! (HOTTEST ON RECORD)

What’s your favorite pepper? What’s the spiciest pepper you’ve ever eaten? Share your comments with us!

{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nick "Not the Peanut Butter Cup" Reese January 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Haha great… My buddy and I ate two Ghost Chilies each a couple months ago. It was cooked into an asian dish. We were excited to say we ate the hottest. Guess we will be in for another painful experience.

Ps. Don’t fly the day after you eat them. Hot behind on the plain isn’t fun.

2 Ryan Tyler January 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Fantastic topic! My father raised me to be a pepper nut. Now that I’m older (and married), I find myself eating them less often — certainly nothing more severe than a jalapeno, and usually nothing more difficult than bell peppers.

Perhaps it’s time to get back on the pepper wagon.

PS – Is it unmanly to ask what’s the safest way to save face after eating a pepper that’s too hot?

3 Darrin January 4, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I’m a big fan of back-to-basics chili. Grab a bunch of dried whole chiles, toast them in a dry skillet, soak in water until soft, and blend up into a paste. Combine this with some ground or cubed beef, some salt, pepper, and cumin, and let it rock in the slow cooker for a while. Really spicy and very flavorful!

4 David Hirsch January 4, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I tend to lean towards the hot and spicy , seldom backing down from a challenging little pod of surprising heat. But, as many men do , I have been known to bite off more than i want to chew. If a pepper is too hot for you, do not panic, a small glass of milk, or even a spoon of sour cream will have enough milk protiens in it to break the oil from the pepper, allowing you to make a polite exit.

i have actually asked for a small dish of sour cream when presented with a new spicy pepper or dish with unknown peppers. nothing wrong with hedging a bit prior to the event.

5 Alok Singh January 4, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Hottest I’ve had was a raw Naga Jolokia in India a few years ago. I’m proud to say I didn’t cry. I’d say it felt like a small fire followed by a delicious aftertaste.

6 Brooks January 5, 2011 at 6:22 am

Eating Habaneros for my 13th birthday was part of my family tradition for coming into manhood. Now that I’ve earned it I cant wait to keep this tradition going. I love adding peppers to my cooking. I’ve never heard of the Ghost peppers before. Looks like something to add to the to do list.

7 Adrian Dye January 5, 2011 at 8:32 am

I was surprised you didn’t mention Pimientos de Padron, which are interesting because the majority are mild and tasty, while some are really hot. Like Russian Roulette, but not so messy.
They are served fried with olive oil and coarse salt. “Os pementos de Padrón, uns pican e outros non” (Galician for “Padrón peppers, some are hot and some are not”).
I actually grew some last summer in the UK.

8 Gary in AK January 5, 2011 at 9:11 am

I Love the taste of Jalapenos but they uhhmmm…. Ahem… go right through, if you know what i mean… verry bad stomach reaction, and honestly a bit hot for eating straight.

Recently, just last week at Christmas actually, I found peppers that I can eat, and not get sick… Peperoncinni. The mild variety, have not tried regular or hot yet. Great flavor, good and spicy, a fair a mount of burn, but not painful… and I can eat a whole jar and have no side effects! Also, found out about sweet yellow wax/bannana peppers, not spicy at all, but the same flavor as the others, but sweet and tangy instead. Verry nice.

One thing I like to do when indoor/griddle cooking steaks is make a relish as i do, a bit of onion, fresh garlic, mushrooms, and whatever else is at hand that looks good(apricot jam makes a great ‘binder’/sweet base to start with!), sauted, and the steak cooked in some of it… I have plans to add the peperoncinni to his ritual soon and see how they’re flavor is cooked.


9 Ryan January 5, 2011 at 9:24 am

I love the flavor of peppers in just about everything, though I only need a small bit of heat. I’ve been growing bell peppers and jalapeños for a few years now, and I’m planning on adding either Anaheim or Poblano this year as an intermediate option. I also need to start drying some so I can make my own chili powder. And to the other Ryan, cold milk is an excellent remedy, both for the immediate cooling effect, and for dislodging the capsaicin. Other dairy products can work, though not as well. I like a milkshake myself, but it’s not really healthy…

10 Jeremy Gross January 5, 2011 at 9:29 am

I love Scotch Bonnet peppers, related to the Habanero, but maybe not quite as hot, but very flavorful.

11 Samuel Warren January 5, 2011 at 10:11 am

Cayenne is one of my favorite peppers. It just has the right flavor to it. For the record, one really good way to get rid of the burn is a hard boiled egg.

12 Jeff January 5, 2011 at 10:11 am

A great pepper that is usually hard to find, but has real good flavor is the Chile Piquin. If you live in a climate that is proper for growing them, they have beautiful foliage, so they can be both decorative and delicious. They are very small and have a short, intense burn.

I learned how to eat those at a bar with a friend. The bar had a reputation for having some great seafood and some of the best oysters on the half-shell around. So…we ordered some oysters and beer and a stranger walked up to us and asked if we liked spicy food. Of course, we said yes, and he walks out and comes back with a handful of Chile piquin peppers and puts them in a shot glass. He said to bite the piquin pepper right before eating an oyster…the sea-like flavor of the oyster blended perfectly with the piquin pepper and I was hooked. It also makes the beer go down pretty rapidly as well.

13 Dan January 5, 2011 at 11:05 am

“Bell shaped pepper about the size of a man’s fist.”

Now that’s how you describe the size of a pepper to a man. Great article.

14 Nick January 5, 2011 at 11:11 am

You gotta give a shout out to the Scotch Bonnet for it’s high level of spice and it’s great flavor. And no, these are NOT the same as habaneros.

15 Khan January 5, 2011 at 11:44 am

Being the man that I am, I had to take on the challenge at the skybar restaurant in Las Vegas’ Aria Hotel… The Naga Jolokia “Firecracker Hamburger”. I have a very high tolerance for spicey food – After the first bite, it was by far the spiciest thing I ever ate, but not too bad. The kick hit about 15 seconds after the swallow. I was able to contain my pain for another bite. About 20 seconds after the second bite, my nose began to bleed. After I ran to the bathroom (Conveniently located directly across the bar), I came back to show my true manliness – Another bite with tissue stuck up my nose. Well, after I controlled the blood, I threw in the towel… No more… Until… The chef had come out and asked how it was. I decided to show him how good it was – and took one last bite. That did it – The rest of the night was as painful internally as it was shown facially. People thought I was drunk. I continued the rest of the night to drink milk, milkshakes, malts, etc. No help. For 24 hours straight, the pain and gastrointestinal problems persisted until an explosion happened in the privacy of my bathroom at the hotel. At around the 25th hour, all pain had subsided and I was 100% once again. However, the ghost chili will not pass my lips EVER again.

Enjoy it if you’d like. $18 for the burger.

16 Bryan Niermeyer January 5, 2011 at 11:53 am

I’ve been using hot sauces on my food and in my cooking for decades. I’ve tried all the usual varieties and many of the more exotics. Buy at Mo Hotta Mo Betta website. I don’t prefer the sauces that use concentrated Capcaisen powder to artificially boost the heat in a sauce. I prefer the sauce be made to taste like a particular pepper or combination of peppers. My favorite pepper taste is the habanero. It’s hot and will cause the symptoms some of you have mentioned above, but the taste is terrific. It’s not that green flavor you get from jalapenos or bell peppers. It’s full and rich. Making sauces is a fun project because you can try different combinations of peppers and other ingredients to achieve a particular taste. It’s definately a manly pursuit.

17 Albert January 5, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Khan, really? Damn, man.

18 Aaron January 5, 2011 at 1:10 pm

You’re missing my personal favorite the Thai (Bird’s Eye) chili. Potent little guys, but add a nice “kick” to the end of sauces without being too too overpowering.

Also think you could’ve gotten some value by adding some of the “treated” peppers like Chipotle.

Omissions aside, nice article, very helpful for those unfamiliar with chilis!

19 AK Engineer January 5, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Don’t forget the Pequin pepper … very small but lots of heat. They are considered the original pepper from which all other peppers were born. About as big as a pencil eraser, they grow wild in the southwest. A coworker from Texas introduced me to them and I now grow a few plants in my office. Great addition to lunch!

20 Jon in Houston January 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Maybe it’s because of my upbringing, but I think now’s a good time to delineate between “chile” and “chili”. I’m originally from New Mexico, where the state question is “Red or green?” (it’s true!). These peppers listed and discussed are chile peppers. Chili is dish as Darrin described. Just a common misspelling that gets to me every time I read it. I feel like I’m true to my childhood home by pointing out the difference.

21 John January 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm

You forgot one very important category. The Sweet non-bells. Somewhere between a Bell and the Banana, broad at top but tapering to a point, typically 3-lobed instead of the 4-lobed bell. not hot at all (unlike a banana type). Favored in Hungary but also found in Romania, Ukraine, and other eastern European cultures.

Good ones are sugar-sweet with NO bitterness (unlike bells who typically can be bitter) and NO heat (unlike all the other banana and chiles of course).

The grand-daddy of them all is a variety called “Romanian Sweet” but many other “Hungarian Type” exist. Thick walled, very sweet, crisp, and rather high water content. Other more modern varieties exist with names like ZsaZsa, Diamond, Gypsy, Flexum, and Healthy.

They are actually what THE peppers of Hungary are based on, the people who tamed wild chili peppers into true, sweet goodness for things like Paprika.

22 dale January 5, 2011 at 4:05 pm

yall should try the datil pepper, grows real fine here in north fl. lots of heat but oh so sweet

23 jordan winer January 5, 2011 at 6:27 pm

something i learn the hard way… if you are cutting jalapenos or others hard core ones, wearing latex gloves can prevent much pain…trust this

24 great zamboni January 5, 2011 at 6:29 pm

One more hint …. Fiorello peppers…similar to the Spanish Padron… very tiny, green, not hot but very tasty, fry in olive oil, soo good a treat….survivable..

25 great zamboni January 5, 2011 at 6:32 pm

naga viper—- excellent discovery!!

26 Miles January 5, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Scotch Bonnets!

27 Al Honold January 5, 2011 at 7:36 pm

A couple years ago I planted my habaneros too close to the jalepenos. They crossed. I did not know till I picked a batch and invited a buddy over for beers. Usually we have some chips and jalepenos, drink a few and talk. This time we did it with tears running down our face. we finished them anyway, though.

28 Oaklawnal January 5, 2011 at 8:04 pm

@ Gary in AK – If you want a great way to eat pepperoncinis, try this. Just add a jar of pepperoncini’s with most of the juice to a pot roast. That’s it, no other changes to your roast recipe. Add at the beginning with all the other ingredients and let it all meld together. My girlfriend introduced me to this and I have to say that I was skeptical at first, but damn it is good! I now request it about once a month and I’m not a big pot roast fan.
I second the pimiento’s and how about some tabasco’s? Great flavor and heat for a little pepper.

29 Tubby Mike January 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Scotch Bonnet chillis grow in the Carribean and are related to jalapeño but much hotter >100,000 SHU. Birds Eye chillis are also known as Peri Peri (or Piri Piri) in South Africa. I can’t take either due to illness, so I had to have the “girl’s sauce” but my friend who ate them said they were “pretty bloody hot”.

30 Core January 5, 2011 at 11:14 pm

I had a friend talk me into eating some Habanero on a damn pizza… It was like the pizza punched me in the face. That’s how hot it was. Geez…

What gets me, is the fact that up above, their is actually a pepper that is hotter…

31 John January 6, 2011 at 2:02 am

Pequin peppers are my favorite for flavor, but I love Habanero for spiciness.

32 Wouter January 6, 2011 at 2:50 am

Nice post, allthough rather strongly US oriented (as most posts, of course). Personally I like rawitt (Indonesian), rather spicy and I adore the French (Basque), very gentle Espelette peppers. Being raised by a father born in Indonesia I simply have to add some sambal sauce to a lot of Dutch dishes, which livens them up a bit :-)

33 leek January 6, 2011 at 2:59 am

The article does not distinguish between peppers and chiles. Peppers are the berries of the peppercorn variety, e.g., black pepper, white pepper, schezuan pepper, etc., which are completely different from chiles, which the article is about.

I can eat Naga Jolokia and Habanero chiles with little gastric consequences, yet schezuan and black peppers must be consumed carefully.

Also, there were major omissions in the list of chiles: Thai chiles and Pequin chiles, for example.

The article’s title is somewhat ironic considering it doesn’t mention “The Man” sauce from Dixie’s BBQ in Bellevue, WA.

34 C. Frutescens January 6, 2011 at 5:24 am

To all you North Americans who refer to “bell peppers”: there’s a great word for these that’s in use elsewhere in the world that distinguishes them instantly from all other peppers: CAPSICUM. It’s from Latin “capsa”, meaning “box”. As capsicums differ from other peppers by containing no capsaicin, they deserve to be distinguished with a name of their own (this helps avoid misunderstandings too!)

Spread the word!

35 Wouter January 6, 2011 at 6:14 am

@C. Frutescens

this will hardly help; Capsicum refers to the whole family, including both bell peppers and chili peppers. Bell peppers contain NO capsaicin, which is only more confusing. Dutch call Bell peppers “paprika” (Hungarian for Bell pepper), but for some reason this seems to be the English word for Bell Pepper *powder*.Then again, in Dutch there (also) is no clear difference between pepper (berries) and pepper (chilis), both “peper”.

The French make it clearer: poivre (pepper berries), poivrons (bell pepper), piment (chilis)

36 Andrew Ampers Taylor January 6, 2011 at 6:25 am

Wikipedia states: Chili peppers have been a part of the human diet in the Americas since at least 7500 BC.

I have eaten a very diluted Nago Viper portion at a Cix meeting over a year ago and must say the spice taste was exceptionally good. I was brought up in Africa and do love my food hot. The worst thing I have done with Chili Pepper was to eat a Scotch Bonnet raw. Never did that again.

I noted this also in Wikkipedia: There is also some disagreement on the use of the word pepper for chilis because pepper originally referred to the genus Piper, not Capsicum; however this usage is included in English dictionaries, including the Oxford English Dictionary (sense 2b of pepper) and Merriam-Webster.[23] The word pepper is commonly used in the botanical and culinary fields in the names of different types of chili peppers.

All in all, a terrific article and I have printed it out so my wife can learn more about the food I love!

I’ll finish up by mentioning that different chili peppers have different flavours and it is important to know this when cooking so as to get the most from your meals.


37 Dan January 6, 2011 at 9:35 am

If you end up cutting up peppers without gloves, never rub your eyes and be careful going to the bathroom. Enough said.

38 Roy January 6, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I grow Bhut Jolokia, Devil’s Tongue and Fatalii peppers in my garden. The Bhut Jolokia is really hot, but I believe that the yellow peppers (Devil’s Tongue, Fatalii) have a much better taste. I make my own hot sauce with them. The vapor that comes up out of the food processor will make you wretch if you are not careful. I know why they are using the Jolokia for a weapon. And, yes, you should be very careful to thoroughly wash your hands multiple times with a grease cutting soap after handling and processing. Rubbing your eyes or going to the bathroom with heat on your hands is a most unpleasant experience.

39 Roy January 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I get my plants from
I find their plants to be of top quality.

40 Ernie Hopkins January 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Love peppers myself, and while having done the “hot challenge” thing for fun in the past, I think many let it ruin their wiliness to enjoy a great part of the botanical world. The stronger peppers simply need to be used more sparingly in their dish seasoning. They all have a very unique flavor and I suspect beneficial botanical health qualities. You just have to realize that what constitutes moderation is a variable number based on the pepper.

41 Rickye January 6, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I, too, order my peppers (and tomatoes and eggplants) from For the wimps among us, I have found that there are a few varieties of the habanero group, Capsicum chinense, with no heat at all, just that great fruity smokey flavor. Trinidad perfume is a lovely small bell that turns yellow when ripe, but other varieties are red or orange. There are not many of these non-hot C. chinense, but you can find them on the website by searching by species and heat level.

42 J.D. Tuccille January 6, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Whatever you do, don’t chop a chile pepper in the kitchen and then try to put in — or remove — contact lenses anytime soon after. Just saying …

43 Saladin January 6, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Our favorite is the Fatalli, VERY hot, delicious and a beautiful bright yellow. Adds excellent flavor to salsa and is a beautiful plant to grow. I start all my chili plants from seed and over winter them in the guest room. The most coddled plants anywhere!

44 Hal Porter January 6, 2011 at 6:36 pm

My grandmother introduced me to stuffed chili/chile peppers when I was five. I was hooked faster than you can say, “Hot Damn!”. Love those crazy endorphins! Saladin sent me some Bhut Jolokias which I made relish out of along with my own yellow and orange Habaneros, Serranos, Cayennes and Red Fresnos for color. The difference between Jolokias and Jalapenos is about the difference between the Sun and a 60 watt light bulb! Now, I suppose my next care package will have some Naga Vipers! Can’t wait, Sal! 1,359,000 SHU’s!!! OMG!!!!!!

45 Micghael Ponzani January 6, 2011 at 8:57 pm

In Ohio I grow the Dorset Naga, which lamost madwe it tio the world’s hottest pepper status. I also have grown ‘fatali, Jamacain hot chocloate, habanero lantern. porarie fire some little chinese ones that don’ need to be ground they are so small. I have seeds from the Bih Jolokia and am trying to get seeds from thnaga viper.

I live outside the snowbelt and in July here it was 46 dfegrees for about 4-5 days. I thought my cropps were lost except for the Chinese and the prarie fire (they’re small plants and I brought them indoors) except for the Fatali , they all gave some fruits . Even the Nagas matured.

I found out I can store seeds in the freezer to extend their life as most peppers stored indoors have a seed life of 1-2 years.Although I don’t do this, I can understand those people who grow giant pumpkins. I’m as nutz about hot peppers as they are about pumpkins.

Look up the Hippie seed co on the net and watch the video of the dude eating a dorset Naga. (I also grow sweet peppers, too.)

46 eb January 6, 2011 at 11:56 pm

When I was a kid, my friend and I used to have contests on who could eat the most hotest pepper sauce with our food. Even before I knew anything aout getting high, I used to get high off the hot peppers. It was the most amazing feeling for about 15 minutes. It seemed that my head was detached from my body while I was looking down at my body. Talk about an “out of body” expeience! I would hear and see me from above.
Now, I just like the mild stuff. eat some types of peppers raw with food. It is the best remedy for not getting sick as it boosts the amune system. Cheers to hot lips!

47 James January 7, 2011 at 2:22 am

The other day for a recipe I need standard ‘green chiles’ like the ones that come in a can, but I wanted fresh. Couldn’t figure out which ti buy. Turns out 99% of the time canned green chiles are Anaheim Peppers.

48 anthony January 7, 2011 at 4:54 am

I’ve grown purple and brown bell peppers too. The best info. on peppers is from New Mexico State University’s Pepper Institute

49 Shane January 7, 2011 at 7:14 am

I like peppers and don’t mind a little heat, but I don’t get the draw to eating something that causes the actual taste of the food to become secondary. I find the hotter the peppers, the less taste. So why bother?

50 Tristan January 8, 2011 at 1:06 pm

As a poor college student I use spice to add some kick to the cheap junk food I often buy.

A single serrano pepper (10 cents, maybe?) chopped up and put in some Ramen (10 cents, exactly) makes it miles better.

51 tony January 8, 2011 at 9:22 pm

i know i am a day late and a dollar short on this comment but i just read your article on bacon were at the end you said turkey bacon is not real bacon i could be wrong but it seems to me your aricle was saying to be a man you have to eat pork bacon the thing is and im not saying you need to be politically correct but when you imply things like that whether it was your intent or not you are saying jews and muslims or even health conscious men arent real men cuase they dont eat pork just saying

52 Derek January 8, 2011 at 10:32 pm



53 Nick January 9, 2011 at 12:50 am

In my opinion spices should be just hot enough to enhance the flavor of the food instead of ruining any possibility of enjoying it. 1,359,000 SHU’s seems like alot. That is a good way to keep his pub patrons guzzling down beers though. Nothing beats good ole Tabasco to warm up eggs, pizza, burrito or salsa

54 Allan January 9, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Agreed, Nick. Anything which overwhelms the true flavour of the food is just pointless. The whole point is to make the food tastier – not painful to eat!

A few drops of Tobasco is often what will turn a good omlette into an awesome one. I rather enjoy the green Tobasco sauce – seems to have a nice jalapeno flavour to it, as well as a bit of spice.

55 John January 9, 2011 at 7:44 pm


I think you are taking it the wrong way. Bacon by definition is a cured meat from the back and side of a hog. I’d liken it to Champagne and sparkling wine. Champagne is a sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France. Sparkling wine from California, isn’t Champagne. That doesn’t mean if you drink it you aren’t a man, you just aren’t drinking Champagne.

Even outside of definition, turkey bacon isn’t even an equal substitute to bacon. Sure, you eat it in place of bacon for breakfast, but if you try to substitute turkey bacon for real bacon in many recipes there will be a marked difference. One of the things that makes bacon bacon is it’s fat content.

That’s why turkey bacon isn’t bacon. It has nothing to do with manliness.

56 Alex January 10, 2011 at 3:25 pm

My introduction to the world of hot, spicy food was primarily due to my friend and roommate, Jay. He was from a small town in North Carolina, and really knew his stuff concerning hot sauces. One day, he (and another roommate, John) decided to play a practical joke on me. We were all busy in the kitchen, making something with avocados (I don’t remember exactly, I think it was some sort of bean dip). Anyway, I had mentioned to Jay that I had never had avocados before. Behind my back, he added a little kick the the guacamole–a hot sauce additive that he had picked up at his local town’s country fair. This stuff was not hot sauce, it was a hot sauce additive. Next to the warnings on the bottle’s label, the directions said to add “one to two drops per gallon of hot sauce.” Jay added a liberal splash to the avocados, and then offered some to me. It was only after I ate some that I noticed that Jay and John were staring at me…

The Pain was intense. I was basically out of commission for about 40 minutes. Whats worse, my roommates felt bad for me after they saw me pouring water from the sink faucet into my burning mouth, so they had some. Now, I had to share the sink with two other idiots who had intentionally consumed some death sauce! We rinsed with water, then milk, then vinegar. After half an hour, I was able to remove myself from the sink and sit down in front of the TV. But, after a few minutes, I had to get back to the kitchen.

After that, I was able to eat pretty much anything spicy!

57 Ron January 10, 2011 at 9:40 pm

I love snakes and I love spice, I also love tom-foolery (having done “gallon challenges” and other foolish and painful things for fun). I love anything unique. I also love the pain of hot-hot peppers. Even if the tiniest nibble sends me to my knees, anyone know where I can get my taste buds wrapped around a viper? I want to try it straight up and also make some dishes with it, too (I love to cook and many people consider me good at it). I want to prepare a few dishes, even if this pepper eats through the pan. I really want to try the world’s hottest pepper. I don’t plan on going to Britain anytime soon and an internet search yielded very little. I know there are some big time pepper enthusiasts on here, guys whom consider themselves real pepper experts, I am hoping they can turn me onto a reputable supplier (someone whom isn’t going to pull the switcharoo and shove a wimpy ole’ ghost pepper or other naga variety on me in it’s place). Greatly appreciated.

58 Kiki January 11, 2011 at 3:10 pm

My mother is from Madagascar, where they have a strange affinity towards hot peppers.
They absolutely NEVER add them to the sauce itself, the reasoning being that if children or elders are eating, they wouldn’t like to have the spiciness. Instead, what you bring to the table is a small jar, in which you have chilies, garlic, slices of ginger, lemon, onions & carrots; all steeped for a few days in white vinegar.
A lot of my parents’ friends (Pakistani, Iranian, Indian, etc) have made the mistake of thinking they can handle these chilies, but what they do not realise until it’s too late is that the sharpness is increased exponentially!
Also, a home tip I’ve been given is to suck on a slice of lemon if you’re finding a dish too spicy. Works for me!

59 Miss Cellania January 12, 2011 at 7:39 am

A manly article about peppers should include a warning about cutting them by without gloves. Even if you don’t feel the effects on your HANDS, you may feel them later on anything more sensitive that your hands touch. If you get my drift.

60 Tarcas January 12, 2011 at 8:27 am

My favorite for flavor is the habanero. Too bad it’s so hot that it has to be used sparingly in recipes. I might have to try some of the others, though here in the midwest the unusual ones are harder to come by than in the southwest.

61 Brendan January 12, 2011 at 9:15 am

Hottest pepper I have ever eaten was an entire habanero on a dare; a vibrant dark orange to boot. Spent the next half hour drinking milk and chewing on ice cubes. But after that everything spicy that is sold in stores isn’t nearly as hot they make it out to be.

62 Chris M January 13, 2011 at 11:53 am

I’ve eaten all those peppers, with the exception of the jolokia variants. :D
The hottest pepper I ever ate was actually a jalapeno that my U.S. History teacher in high school grew. He brought them to school and we all had a pepper-eating contest. I haven’t a clue what kind of plant food he gave those jalapenos, but they were hotter than any habanero I’ve eaten since.

63 Chris Homan January 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm

As far as peppers go, I’ve not had anything hotter than a habanero. Definitely willing to try a few more of these varieties, though. Could be interesting.

64 Kevin January 23, 2011 at 1:06 am

Tony, that’s exactly what is being said…..real men eat pork. What else do you want to cry about?

65 Brian January 23, 2011 at 1:13 am

Habanero is about the most I can handle…jeez. I can’t imagine a Naga Viper or Ghost Chili…I want to have an eating contest with my friends…

66 Art January 24, 2011 at 10:45 pm

I, like Brendan, also ate a whole dark orange habanero on a dare. I got 15 bucks out of the deal, well worth it, but I did it about 45 minutes before gym class, and ended up running to the locker room and puking after a set of pushups. I had never experienced that kind of pain before. The hottest I’ve ever had was a habanero concentrate paste that a guy in New York gave me on some Asian food about 8 years ago. It would be interesting to know what the SHU count becomes in some of these concentrate pastes.

One pepper that is missing, that is available at least in NY city grocery markets is the Guyana Cherry, which I think is called the Wiri Wiri pepper. They are also fairly hot, but have a unique taste. I also like Datil peppers from Louisiana. Although not too hot, they sometimes add a nice flavor. My dad had a jar of some of that pepper sauce that he aged for like 10 years, and it was pretty good.

I have serious doubts about this amazing US History Teacher’s jalapeño… I have tasted jalapeños from my grandparents garden in AZ that were grown dry and hot and as spicy as you can get, and they were seriously cake compared to even mild habanero’s. Maybe the teacher later started a pub in the UK with his modified “jalapeño”…haha.

Actually, for me, there is a certain tiredness factor that comes into play in eating spicy food. If I am running on minimal sleep, such as from law school exams, the subjective spiciness of a pepper that I feel in my mouth is, let’s just say, greatly increased. But with a good amount of rest, I actually enjoy even the spiciest flavors and can taste the subtleties amid the fire.

So my real question is whether there is any real danger from capsaicin. If you have enough of it in a hypothetical sauce, could you accidentally melt your face off? Or maybe cause blindness? An ulcer is certainly possible, but there are people that eat really hot stuff everyday that are fine. I eat pretty hot stuff all the time, and I’ve never had a problem like that. I mean, there has to be a reason why its painful, and I’m wondering what that reason is. Does it simply excite the nerve endings enough to cause pain? Any info is appreciated.

67 Chris L February 1, 2011 at 12:37 am

An article about chile’s, and no mention of the famous green chile of my homestate New Mexico! For shame, AoE.

For those of you not in the know, about the only thing New Mexico is famous for besides the atomic bomb is our chile’s. Picked when green when intended to be used immediately, or let ripen to a dark red when you intend to dry them, these peppers pack a punch equal to about 2 to 3 Jalapenos.

They’re so popular you can get them on your Mcdonalds burger, if you were inclined to call what mcdonalds serves a burger, or food for that manner.

68 Corporate Drone February 2, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Feh. Hatch green chiles — while delicious — are child’s play!
Child’s play, I say.

69 Daniel November 19, 2012 at 11:35 am

I first learned about hot spicy foods at the chow hall in the AirForce. Since then I have been a cautious adventurer to ever more hot foods. Hot Thai, Burmese, and Napali foods get regular visits. What my wife and I now do is make Jalapeno and Habanero jelly. On chicken or crackers with cream cheese both are fantastic.. The hottest pepper I have tried is the Fatalli in chilli and chicken noodle soup. Very flavorfull but verrrrrrrrrrrrrry hot.

70 Albert February 9, 2013 at 4:05 am

I just ordered seeds for Chile piquin plants. Haven’t had one since I was thirteen but have tried for years to buy the seeds. Found them on amazon and just had to hay em. Cost me ten dollars total for 100 seeds bit I say well worth it

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