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Texan Wants To Grow World's Hottest Pepper

Ghost chili
Image courtesy Peter Baer
Until recently, the ghost chili used to be the world's hottest. Now the Naga Viper has dethroned the Ghost and one Texan hopes he can get his hands on the seeds.

The Bhut Jolokia, or Naga Ghost chili, used to be the world's hottest pepper as ranked on the Scoville scale. But that all changed this winter when British chili farmer Gerald Fowler created a hybrid pepper he's calling the Naga Viper.

Experts at Warwick University tested the chili and declared it the world's hottest, reports the Daily Mail.

The Naga Viper chilli packs an astonishing 1,359,000 on the Scoville scale, which measures heat by the presence of the chemical compound capsaicin. …. The most popular chilli – Jalapeno – measures a pitiful 2,500 to 5,000 on the Scoville scale. Mr Fowler’s Naga Viper is more than 270 times hotter and trumps the previous world record holder, the Bhut Jolokia, at 1,001,304.

Now, a pepper farmer from Fort Worth says he wants to start growing the Naga Viper in his backyard. Ronnie Walley, owner and operator of AlabamaJacks Exotic Superhots, tells the Fort Worth Star Telegram that all he needs is 10 to 15 seeds.

Walley, who's grown hot peppers for more than a dozen years, said he knows it won't be easy to get Naga Viper seeds. He'll have to get them approved by customs first. But he hopes to get enough to grow perhaps a dozen or so. They would, he said, fit in well with the other peppers he grows and sells, from orange habaneros to the bhut jolokia. "With this being such a new hybrid, you don't know who they will take after," he said. "Can it be repeated?"

But in order to become the first in the US to grow the Naga Viper, Walley will have to beat New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute. The Institute is  a leading global authority on hot peppers, and in a post on its website, says the Naga Viper hype can't be believed until it can conduct a test. The Chile Pepper Institute says it has requested a sample from Fowler.

Here's a hilariously painful video of someone eating the Naga Viper.

Bonus video: This pepper farmer eats what used to be the world's hottest chili, the Bhut Jolokia (Naga Ghost chili).

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.