The Bhut Jolokia chili pepper from Assam, India is no ordinary pepper. In tests first conducted by the New Mexico State University in 2008 and subsequently confirmed by Guinness World records and others, the Bhut Jolokia reached over one million Scoville heat units (SHUs), while the next hottest, the Red Savina Habenero clocks in at a mere 577,000. Scoville units are a universally accepted measure of chili hotness.
That's not just hot, that's ferocious fry-your-brains hot. And indeed, the pepper's name translates into the "ghost pepper" either because if you eat a whole one you become a ghost or the brutal heat drives all the color out of your system.
In fact, Indian farmers say Bhut paste can be used for everything from sauces to tear gas. And there in lies the military's interest.
According to a BBC report: In addition to being used for controlling mobs - in a similar way to pepper spray - and protecting women, bhut jolokia chilies can be used as a food additive for troops operating in cold conditions. They have also been used on fences around army barracks in the hope that the strong smell will keep out animals. But scientists say the chili's primary purpose will be as a stun grenade against suspected insurgents.
According to the SIFY news site: When deployed, the grenade showers the targets with a dust so spicy that in trials subjects were blinded for hours and left with breathing problems.
Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8
Layer 8 Extra
Check out these other hot stories: