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In The Family
What Is the World’s Hottest Hot Sauce?
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It’s so spicy, it comes with a terms of service agreement.

Now that you can buy pure capsaicin crystals, the purest form of chile heat that’s chemically possible, the arms race to make a hotter hot sauce should theoretically have stopped. But it continues unabated, using ultra-hot chiles that are orders of magnitude spicier than habaneros or even the dreaded bhut jolokia pepper. The current leader of the pack goes by the cuddly name Mad Dog 357 Plutonium, and it scores 9 million units on the Scoville heat scale.

By comparison, Cholula nets a meek 3,600, while those pure capsaicin crystals hit 16 million. The Mad Dog hot sauce’s only ingredient is “pure oleoresin capsicum,” which means it’s less a sauce composed of varied delightful plants and spices mixed in such a way as to give the eater a prickle of painful pleasure, but rather a chemical weapon designed to pack as many molecules of pain as possible into a bottle. You can buy Mad Dog 357 Plutonium online, if you wish, for the price of $100 an ounce. The side of the box has a terms of service agreement indemnifying the manufacturer from lawsuits.

Also read: The Incredible Story of Bhut Jolokia: From Rural India to Dumb YouTube Stunts

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Max Falkowitz

Max Falkowitz is a food and travel writer for The New York Times, Saveur, GQ, New York magazine’s Grub Street, and other outlets. He’s also the coauthor of The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook with Helen You.