Having lived my entire life in Minnesota, my ability to handle spicy food is lacking. Although I love it, it does not love me and the way I feel the day following a spicy meal is bad enough to make it not worth the bother.

However, I am interested in the way individual growers manipulate peppers genetically, a la Mendel, to come up with ever-more piquant peppers. (BTW: MAKE Volume 07 had a nice section in it called “Hack Your Plants.”) I have a Google alert set to alert me when new developments on the hot pepper front occur, and lately, there has been a flurry of activity.

A couple years ago, I blogged about the Bhut Jolokia, an ultra spicy pepper grown in areas of India and Pakistan. This thing is freakishly hot; it’s so high in capsaicin that it was used as elephant repellent.

But the Ghost pepper (“bhut” means ghost in Hindi) has fallen from the top, apparently. Earlier this year, Australian pepper grower Marcel de Wit unveiled a super pepper, called the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T, which tested hotter. Just two weeks ago came news reports that a Taiwanese farmer, Yeh Wu Shun, claimed his new cultivar is even hotter, scoring 1.5 million units on the Scoville scale of pepper hotness. (By comparison, a really hot jalapeno scores around 8,000 units.)

Yeh planned to debut his chilli at a chilli-eating contest in Taipei. “The person who will eat the most of this hot chilli will win my antique Jaguar,” he said.

Bio: Bill Gurstelle is a contributing editor for MAKE. Visit his site, www.thepracticalpyromaniac.com