News came out last week that there may be a new contender for the coveted crown of 'Hottest Chile in the World'! The details have been fuzzy up to this point, but the Dragon's Breath chile is reportedly 2.4 million Scoville Heat Units (it's unclear if this is an average heat or peak heat level), which would beat the previous record holder, the Carolina Reaper, which clocked in at an average 1.5 million SHU and peaks at 2.2 million SHU. Mike Smith, the breeder of the Dragon Breath chile, is reportedly waiting on a response from the Guinness Book of World Records. Until we hear from Guinness, it may be best to withhold our judgement.
While we wait for verification, it might be worth considering some of the other claims that came up in the articles about the Dragon Breath. For example, The Daily Post boasted that the chile was "so hot it could KILL you". While enough of anything could kill you, that claim is dubious at best. Remember that this pepper is only marginally hotter than previous world record holders. Barring any pre-existing medical conditions, there's no reason to worry about anything other than some serious discomfort.
Another claim that made the rounds is that the Dragon's Breath chile is intended to be used as an alternative to anesthetics in third world countries. While this is a laudable goal, it sounds to us more like a marketing ploy rather than an actual attempt to solve a problem. While capsaicin (the active ingredient hot peppers) can have a numbing effect, using a fancy designer plant that is likely to be hard to grow and low yielding is unlikely to be a sustainable solution. A pure capsaicin cream would most likely be cheaper, not to mention standardized, consistent, and more reliable. If fresh peppers were a better option, then ghost peppers would likely be cheaper and easier to grow.
One other thing to watch for is the HP56 Death Strain pepper. Bred by Ed Currie, the creator of the Carolina Reaper, the HP56 has long been rumored to approach 3 million SHU, but we haven't seen any conclusive proof yet. Now that the heat is on, Currie may be inclined to release this hotter pepper.