If you're a food nerd, you definitely know about Scoville Heat Units (SHU), the scale used to measure the spiciness of a chilli pepper or a hot sauce. For example, Tabasco sauce has 2,500-5,000 SHU, a green bell pepper has 0 SHU and a California reaper pepper has 2.2 million SHU. It's a huge range, measured by how many units of sugar water are needed to neutralize the capsaicin in any given chilli, explains The Independent. This measurement was developed in 1912 by a man named Wilbur Scoville, the subject of Jan. 22's very entertaining Google doodle.
Who was Scoville? Born in 1865 in Bridgeport, Conn., he became a chemist, the vice-chairman of the American Pharmaceutical Association, a husband, a father, a professor of pharmacology and a researcher, according to Silicon Republic. His No. 1 claim to fame, though, is the Scoville Heat Units scale.
The Scoville scale has been used time and time again by hot sauce makers and hot sauce-guzzling people to prove their gastrointestinal strength. One sauce, called Satan's Blood, is so concentrated, scary and viscous that it comes in a phial, and one drop on the tip of a toothpick is enough to add intense spice to an entire stew. This sauce's SHU rating? Eight-hundred thousand.. Imagine what it's like to take even the tiniest nibble of a California reaper pepper, at 2.2 million SHU. There are hundreds of truly unpleasant videos online that show people eating or tasting any ridiculous pepper they can find, but we don't really recommend watching them.
To honor Scoville on what would be his 151st birthday, make a bottle of hot sauce that's actually delicious. This mango-habanero sauce from Food For My Family is delicious, sweet and very spicy without making you break a sweat. It's especially perfect on fish tacos.
Happy Scoville Day!