Posted in zany, offbeat, somewhat silly humor

Ghost Peppers And Other Things Peripherally-Related to Kitchens

Just to spare you some cognitive dissonance, I feel like I should explain that the feature image for this column has nothing to do with kitchens or Ghost Peppers.  The person in the photo happens to be a scientist whom I’ll call Tanner Shpiruk for the sake of argument.  “Tanner” was hard at work when this photo was taken, graphing fluctuations in the intensity of the solar ion flux.  Or he might have been trying to figure out how to pay off his photo radar tickets.  I can’t remember.  Either way, he’s a busy fellow.

But the point I want to make here is that I was pleasantly surprised one morning recently when I came into my office to discover that Tanner had given my Dress-up Bigfoot  a serious wardrobe overhaul.

After overhaul
Before overhaul


I have to applaud Tanner for exercising some initiative and demonstrating his creativity.  After all, you have to give your team members room to run.  My personal preference was the combination of the  fez, kilt and Chuck Taylors, as the kilt has an overall slimming effect.  I do have to admit though, that the tighty-whitey/bling ensemble works OK for me too.  And the plant in the background is also a nice touch.

I just think that the tight underwear draws attention to Bigfoot’s butt.  That’s all I’m saying.   Still and all, you get the feeling that this chap is the down-to-earth uncomplicated type of large primate that you might meet anywhere, like on Rodeo Drive for example.

But long before the wardrobe overhaul incident, things really started heating up (!) here at The Department of Lateral Thinking when I staggered into a discussion about the Scoville scale for rating the pungency or “hotness” of chili peppers in the lunchroom.  (The peppers weren’t in the lunchroom; the discussion took  place in the lunchroom.)

Basically,  Scoville Heat Units reflect the number of drops of a sugar solution needed to dilute a standard extract of a candidate chili pepper to the point where at least three out of five highly-trained chili pepper tasters can put a drop of the diluted extract on their tongues and still remain conscious long enough to exclaim: “Holy Crap!  It feels like someone just cut loose in my mouth with one of Elon Musk’s new Boring Company flamethrowers!”

Musk sporting an impish expression and wielding his new flamethrower

I’ll likely come back to the flamethrower at some point, but anyway, the lunchroom discussion centered around where the Ghost Pepper sits in the rankings of hottest peppers in the world, with some people insisting that it is #1.  Not so!

To settle the issue, I’m giving you a recent list of the hottest peppers in the world along with their Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) ratings.

1. Carolina Reaper (aka The Widowmaker) 2,200,000 SHU

Freshly-picked California Reaper in containment device, awaiting ingestion

2.Trinidad Moruga Scorpion 2,009,231 SHU

trinidad scorpion
Moruga scorpion with stinger exposed.  Note that protective gloves are mandatory when handling this pepper.

3. Seven-Pot Douglah 1,853,936 SHU

4. Seven-Pot Primo 1,469,000 SHU

5. Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” 1,463,700 SHU

6. Naga Viper 1,349,000 SHU

Another hot item: Dodge Viper 850 HP

7. Bhut Jolokia (aka Ghost Pepper) 1,041,427 SHU

Ghost Pepper in its natural state: barely visible

8. Seven-Pot Barrackpore 1,000,000 SHU

9. Seven-Pot Red (Giant) 1,000,000 SHU

10. Red Savina Habanero 500,000 SHU

As you can see, the Ghost Pepper is still a serious player, coming in at a respectable one million SHU, well ahead of hundreds of other lesser peppers such as the Malagueta pepper. By the way even though the Malagueta is only rated at a paltry 50,000 to 100,000 SHUs it’s still sort of a unique pepper because it bears an uncanny resemblance to a bird.

Malagueta pepper
Fully-ripened Malagueta pepper bearing vestigial red rooting pod from which it develops.  Other rooting pods may be seen in the forefront.

Now you may have noticed that several of the other heavyweight peppers listed above bear the “Seven-Pot” prefix in their name.  This is because a single high octane pepper of this calibre is reputed to be able to season seven pots of stew.

So the question that immediately springs to my mind is: who the heck has the kitchen cupboard space to safely store seven stew pots?  And never mind the stew pots.  What about the appliances?  We have so darned many appliances these days that kitchen sizes are increasing at an alarming rate.

Kitchen in average new starter home

Now just like you have a microbiome, consisting of all the various bacteria occupying the ecological niches in your colon, you also have an  applianceome consisting of all the various appliances that occupy niches in your kitchen cupboards.  In an attempt to make space in the applianceome for more stew pots, appliance manufacturers (some of them human) have been busily inventing weird multipurpose appliances.  Here are a few examples:






8-function cooker

medaieval device


Clockwise from top left we have:

Some kind of combination blender/broccoli steamer which also allows you to bathe small animals and then somehow do their hair; at 2 o’clock we have a toaster oven/warming tray which doubles as a food dehydrator and coffee perk/sock washer; next is an 8-function alien programmable bagel steamer/rice cooker/bidirectional time machine and teleportation unit; carrying on the alien theme at the bottom of the collage is a mobile high-intensity xenon arc flashlight which doubles as a robotic helper to help keep the damned cats off the kitchen counter, especially when there’s company;  last-but-not-least, gracing the 9 o’clock position, is a human-powered coffee grinder/paint stirrer/ argon plasma coagulator although I’m not sure of the exact functions because the verbiage on the site I got it from was in Russian.

Language barrier aside, I’m not saying you shouldn’t check some of these things out in order to make room for more stew pots.  Just remember that we’ve already been fooled by this sort of thing with our washing machines, coffee makers, TV remotes, PVRs, home entertainment consoles, vole eradication systems, thermostats, electric toothbrushes, gravity wave detectors, etc, etc.  The instruction manuals for the new high-tech versions of all these everyday items are so complicated that they make you feel like you have the IQ of a mouse when you try to read them.










Life is complicated enough.  If you’re not comfortable reading 27-page instruction manuals and/or don’t have a PhD in Electrical Engineering you should stick to basics, eat milder chili peppers, make do with the number of cooking pots you already have, find a simple wardrobe look that you like and just keep working it.


Next column: Ancient Polynesian ocean navigation strategies




Dave Barry fan and Medical Director at Rocky Mountain Analytical

One thought on “Ghost Peppers And Other Things Peripherally-Related to Kitchens

  1. George,

    You never cease to make my day with The Dept. of Lateral Thinking. You definitely have the family gift.

    Keep ‘em coming

    Much love

    Your cousin Mary Lou xoxo

    P.S. Being serious fans of hot food, especially Mexican-we know and appreciate a little about the “chili scene”. I can’t imagine why any sane person would want to subject his/her palate to the tortures of the Carolina Reaper unless of course they’re being trained to withstand the worst imaginable and heinous deviations that can be heaped upon the heads of a captured CIA agent.


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