Some of us like a little heat in our food sometimes. Tabasco sauce can be fun added to a burger. Jalapenos in a taco or added to a sauce can give food a kick — and also some additional flavor. But how much heat is too much heat?
Wendy’s has introduced Jalapeno Ghost Pepper Fries. Unless they’ve added almost no real ghost peppers in this dish, odds are very few people will be able to enjoy it, even if they’re big fans of hot food. If you’ve ever watched a cooking show that features ghost peppers, you’ll see chefs boil the peppers, discard them and use just a few tablespoons of the liquid in the dish they’re preparing. Even then, the finished product can be too hot for some to handle. And with good reason.
In 2007, Guinness World Records certified that the ghost pepper was the world’s hottest chili pepper, 900.5 times hotter than Tabasco sauce; the ghost chili is rated at more than 1 million Scoville heat units (SHUs). Classic Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 SHUs. However, the bhut jolokia was superseded by the Trinidad moruga scorpion in 2012 ]which was in turn replaced by the “Carolina Reaper” on December 26, 2013.
That makes the ghost pepper the third hottest chili in the world. Imagine a pepper that’s over 900 times as hot as Tabasco sauce. Then imagine including it in a dish for fast food consumers, who may not understand the punch this pepper can pack.
Our suspicion is that there’s little, if any, ghost peppers in these new Wendy’s fries. So let’s investigate a little and see what we can find out.
Small French Fries: Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (contains one or more of the following oils: canola, soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, corn), Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (to maintain natural color). Cooked in Soybean Oil, Vegetable Oil (may contain one or more of the following: canola, corn, cottonseed), Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid (preservative), Dimethylpolysiloxane (anti-foaming agent). Cooked in the same oil as menu items that contain Wheat, Egg, and Fish (where available). Seasoned with Sea Salt. Cheddar Cheese Sauce Water, Cheddar Cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), Milk Ingredients, Cream Cheese (pasteurized milk and cream, cheese culture, salt, carob bean gum), Modified Cornstarch, Soybean Oil, Palm Oil, Whey, Sodium Phosphate, Cream, Cheese Culture, Milk Fat, Parmesan Cheese (pasteurized part-skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzyme), Butter, Sodium Phosphate, Salt And Sea Salt, Sodium Alginate, Carob Bean Gum, Mono & Diglycerides, Annatto And Apocarotenal (for color), Lactic Acid. CONTAINS: MILK. Cheddar Cheese, Shredded Cultured Pasteurized Milk, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto Color, Potato Starch and Powdered Cellulose (to prevent caking), Natamycin (natural mold inhibitor). CONTAINS: MILK. Ghost Pepper Sauce Soybean Oil, Sour Cream (cream, modified corn starch, lactic acid, gelatin, guar gum, mono and diglycerides, sodium phosphate, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate [preservatives], acetic acid, citric acid, phosphoric acid, natural and artificial flavors), Buttermilk, Jalapeno Pepper, Egg Yolk, Salt, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Cilantro, Sugar, Spice, Xanthan Gum, Onion (dehydrated), Oleoresin Paprika, Garlic (dehydrated), Acetic Acid, Ghost Pepper, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Oleoresin Rosemary. CONTAINS: EGG, MILK. Diced Jalapenos Jalapenos.
The Ghost Pepper sauce actually contains more jalapeno pepper than ghost pepper — which is the fifth ingredient to last in the list. And that list, just for the ghost pepper sauce, contains 34 ingredients. Without any percentages given for the use of the actual pepper, it’s difficult to understand why the fries carry any sort of ghost pepper moniker. There are natural and artificial flavors used and those must be to mimic the flavor of something (probably peppers.)
The new Jalapeno Ghost Pepper Fries from Wendy’s have very little to do with ghost peppers. This is marketing ploy to generate consumer interest for a new product. While we’re sure the fries do have a kick of heat, eating these has little resemblance, if any, to eating any dish prepared with ghost peppers. Foodfacts.com likes trying new and interesting foods. We even enjoy a little heat every now and again. But we also like transparency regarding the foods we choose to consume. Wendy’s isn’t doing that here. We’d probably be saying no to this anyway, just based on the length and content of the ingredient list. But the idea that there’s barely any ghost pepper in a sauce for which the fries are named seals the deal. Not trying this one.