HOT PEPPERS: When Wilbur Scoville first devised a means to test the heat of peppers, his hottest entry then came in at 20,000 units. Habanero and Thai chilies can go as high as 60,000. Compare that to the sweet bell pepper at zero. When hot peppers are consumed, capsaicinoids bind with pain receptors in the mouth and throat that are responsible for sensing heat. Once activated by the capsaicinoids, these receptors send a message to the brain that the person has consumed something hot. The brain responds to the burning sensation by raising the heart rate, increasing perspiration and release of endorphins. Hot peppers should be eaten with caution!
Nu Mex Joe E. Parker Chili Pepper: 75 days - Released in 1975 by Dr. Nakayama (a.k.a. Dr. Pepper), this cultivar is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest pepper. It produces long, thick, smooth, fleshy fruits. Because of the large pods, the cultivar is a favorite of home gardeners and chefs for making chile rellenos. As an advantage, plants are able to set fruit under hot, dry conditions.