"Off-the-charts" ^ 2 = 2 million? Whatever - it's just really hot.


Scoville Foods has created periodic-table inspired packaging for its line of hot sauces - complete with a "Scoville unit" rating system. Check out this tasty pseudoscience:

Now, we are very pleased to introduce our hottest sauces: OTC and OTC Squared. That means it's Off-the-Charts on the Scoville Scale. To our OTC, we add ONE MILLION SCOVILLE UNIT EXTRACT and WOW, you can taste it. And feel it. For like 15 minutes. For OTC Squared, we really upped the ante. Chock full of ONE & TWO MILLION SCOVILLE UNIT AFRICAN OLEORESIN PEPPER EXTRACT.

Okay, I don't know how squaring one million of anything gets you two million, but whatever. It's tongue-in-cheek (literally). And the periodic table is cute. :) (click for larger)


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Well, not to defend silly mathematics or anything — and, as you say, it's all meant to be whimsical — but I'm led to understand that the Scoville scale is in some way logarithmic.

But, really, I've never understood the point of hot sauces that go beyond 100,000 units, or so, apart from their macho appeal (a malady with which I've not been afflicted). When it's too concentrated, it doesn't distribute well into the food, so you wind up with hot spots and bland spots (though perhaps once you hit a couple of hot spots, you can't tell any more). I like my food spicy, but I like to be able to control it to get the effect I want.

I'll stick with the lower concentrations, and just use more of it if I want the food hotter.

In any case, I'm with you: I love the periodic table theme.

To place this in context, you have to have some knowledge of the Scoville Scale and its namesake Scoville Units:

"The Scoville scale measures the hotness or piquancy of a chili pepper, as defined by the amount of capsaicin it contains. Capsaicin is a chemical compound which stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin, especially the mucous membranes. The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present."The scale is named after its creator, American chemist Wilbur Scoville, who developed a test for rating the pungency of chili peppers. His method, which he devised in 1912, is known as the Scoville Organoleptic Test. An alternative method for quantitative analysis uses high-performance liquid chromatography, making it possible to directly measure capsaicinoid content."Some hot sauces use their Scoville rating in advertising as a selling point. Chili peppers, fruits of the Capsicum genus, contain a great deal of capsaicin."

In essence, the scale is a measure of the capsaicin content of a substance in relation to what would appear to be both raw amount and percentage. There are some specific mentions along the scale that put things into perspective:
0 : No heat (e.g. bell pepper)
2,500â8,000 : Jalapeño Pepper
30,000â50,000 : Cayenne Pepper
100,000â350,000 : Habanero chili
855,000â1,050,000 : Naga Jolokia (a.k.a. Ghost pepper)
5,000,000â5,300,000 : Law Enforcement Grade pepper spray
15,000,000â16,000,000 : Pure capsaicin

The Naga Jolokia "Ghost" Pepper currently holds the Guiness record for hottest chili in the world, with an officially recognized peak of 1,041,427 Scoville Units.

That math is not just fuzzy, it's hairy.

The trademark is only for the "periodic table" graphic. This enterprising company is making use of the Scoville scale, first developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912.

The question might be, would Wilbur have approved the conflation of his scale with the periodic table with the branding of food? :) I assume probably so, but who knows? I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have approved the idiosyncratic font choices on their website, but he certainly should have approved the labels - they're awesome.

PS. Re logarithmic - I should have thought of that! It makes sense - but not as it's described on the website, which plays a bit fast and loose with jargon. ;)