Banned by Some Louisiana Schools, How Hot is the Paqui Chip?
The Paqui "one chip challenge" is the latest social media endeavor that is sweeping the nation and apparently filling up emergency rooms and walk-in clinics too. The "challenge" requires that an individual eat a Paqui chip that boasts a season made with Carolina Reaper peppers and Scorpion Peppers. And yes, it's extremely hot.
So hot in fact that some who have taken the challenge on social media have required emergency room visits and in South Louisiana, we have been made aware of at least one instance of a local student who took the challenge and required medical attention.
The risk of "a bad outcome" is so strong that Lafayette Public Schools announced yesterday a ban on the challenge. The National Poison Control Center says the amount of capsaicin, the stuff that makes peppers hot, can cause mouth and throat pain, oesophagal damage, chest pains, heart palpitations, and even heart attacks.
Now, I ask, who wouldn't want to watch that unfold on your social media feed, right?
So, how hot is this really? I mean we live in South Louisiana where "spice" is expected in our food but I don't think even the toughest of Cajun tongues really wants to delve into the Paqui challenge.
Just for reference let's look at the Scoville numbers for some other peppers you might be more familiar with.
A bell pepper, part of the Cajun Trinity has zero Scoville heat units, that's why we like them in cool refreshing salads and in everything else we eat. a Banana Pepper has about 500 Scoville units which is why you can taste that one a little easier than a bell pepper.
Jalapeno Peppers, the ones that are most often used in Mexican dishes can have a Scoville heat unit of 2,000 to 8,000. Stop for a second, if you find jalapenos hot at 8,000 Scoville units just imagine how that "over 2,000,000" Scoville heat units will feel on the Paqui chip.
Tabasco Peppers, a very familiar flavor and heat source here in Louisiana, have a Scoville unit rating of 30,000 to 50,000. That's why it only takes a few drops, right? Habenero Peppers can have a Scoville range of 150,000 to 575,000.
The Scotch Bonnet Pepper, which is popular in Jamaican Jerk Chicken and other dishes from the Caribbean has a Scoville unit rating of 100,000 to 350,000. That's pretty much it for the "mainstream peppers" we consume in our part of the world.
Just for the record, a Carolina Reaper pepper has a Scoville score of about 2,2 million and the Scorpion Pepper has a Scoville heat unit rating of about 300,000. So the Scorpion, another product of the Caribbean is well below the Carolina Reaper and the Ghost Pepper which has a Scoville rating of about 1 million heat units.
While I get the need to "kick things up a notch", especially in Louisiana dishes I can't see the need to burn and blister your insides with peppers that are this hot. Also, you have to think 24 hours later when another orifice in your body comes into play. Those Scoville units certainly don't feel good as they exit the building if you know what I mean.
By the way, if you do find yourself in a bit of a heated pickle from eating a hot pepper you can cool the capacity by drinking milk. Milk works so much better than water or beer when it comes to putting out a pepper fire.
I guess our words of wisdom are "if you're offered a Paqui Chip, pass or be prepared to pass out and if you do, get that on video because social media loves watching drooling, stumbling, snot-leaking idiots ingest peppers for our enjoyment". Oh, and notify a family member so they can run you to the hospital to get your insides pumped.
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