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January 22 is National Hot Sauce Day

national hot sauce day

Today is National Hot Sauce Day. It celebrates the birthday in 1865 of Wilbur Scoville, who created a method to determine a pepper’s spiciness that is still in use today.

Scoville, an American chemist, devised the system in 1912. It measures the concentration of capsaicin, the active component that gives chilies their spicy taste, using Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Ratings range from 0 for a bell pepper to 16,000,000 for pure capsaicin.

Capsaicin content, which causes a burning sensation when it comes in contact with any tissue, is measured by dissolving a pepper in alcohol to extract its capsaicin oil, then diluting the oil in sugar water.

If a panel of five testers detects any spiciness, the mixture is diluted again until three of the five cannot discern any hotness. Heat level is measured by how many dilutions are necessary. Every instance increases the SHU, since hotter chilies must be weakened many times for no heat to be detected.

In 2013, The Guinness World Record for hottest chili pepper went to the Carolina Reaper, a cross between a ghost pepper and a red habanero created by Ed Currie of the aptly named PuckerButt Pepper Company. The Reaper’s official heat level is 1,569,300 SHU but ranges up to 2,200,000. (By comparison, Tabasco sauce has a level 0f 2,500 to 5,000.)

The Reaper was bested in 2017 by Dragon’s Breath, which clocked in at 2,480,000 SHU. Currie surged back with Pepper X, a Frankenstein’s monster at 3,180,000 SHU. Unlike Dragon’s Breath, which will only be used for medicinal purposes, Pepper X is available as a sauce dubbed The Last Dab.

Studies have shown that heat levels evoke the same pain response in spice lovers and haters and everyone in between. So why do so many of us like it? Could it predict other risk-taking behaviors? Check out this TED Ed lesson for answers.

Happy National Hot Sauce Day!

Copyright 2020 Worldwide Weird Holidays

September 4 is Eat an Extra Dessert Day

Today is Eat an Extra Dessert Day, always celebrated on September 4th. We don’t know who started it or when, but we sincerely hope it will go on forever because, let’s face it, the only thing better than one dessert is two.

Eat an Extra Dessert Day

We’re neither mathematicians nor philosophers, but we wonder: Is there such a thing as half a dessert? To paraphrase Yoda, there is only dessert and no dessert. Wouldn’t that apply here, too? If eaten at once, there can be only one dessert. (We’re throwing in a little Highlander here, too. Please pardon our mixed movie metaphors.)

Theoretically, one dessert could last forever. Perhaps the purpose of Eat an Extra Dessert Day is to allow us a moment to escape the sweet-time continuum. It may be the only chance we’ll get all year.

Good luck, and, when you come back to the table, please bring the chocolate sauce. There’s work to be done.

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays

March 3 is National Cold Cuts Day

Today is National Cold Cuts Day. Some look at a seemingly wacky holiday and say, “Why?” At Worldwide Weird Holidays, we say, “Why not?”

National Cold Cuts Day

The term “cold cuts” refers to any cooked meat that is thinly sliced, often eaten in a sandwich. According to SupermarketGuru, there are three types:

Whole cuts are slices carved directly from chicken, turkey breast, corned beef or other precooked sources.

Formed or “restructured” products are made by combining meat chunks with sticky proteins and/or artificial additives, emulsifying them into a thick slurry. The blend is then forced into a mold or casing and cooked to bind it into its new shape.

Processed meats include cured, smoked and otherwise preserved foods like sausage and hot dogs as well as bologna and liverwurst. Manufacturing steps are similar to those of formed meats, with an important exception. These mixtures may include “by-products” such as lips, stomachs, and hearts.

Note: Any lunch meat appended with the word “loaf”—olive loaf, ham loaf, pickle loaf—might warrant a peek at the list of ingredients. A word to the wise: If it calls itself a loaf but it isn’t bread, proceed with caution.

Want to know more? Watch a five-minute segment devoted to deli meats on Discovery Channel’s “How It’s Made” program. The script sounds suspiciously like advertising, but maybe the narrator just really, really loves lunch meat.

If you’d prefer more comprehensive reportage, prepare to be dazzled by Season 13, Episode 39 of “Modern Marvels,” a 45-minute tour de force titled, simply, Cold Cuts. (It’s currently unavailable on the History Channel but, in case you feel like breaking the law, we’ve tracked down a pirated version on YouTube.)

On a more serious note, we find it alarming that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (which lengthened its name in 1992 but still refers to itself as the CDC) advises pregnant women, people over 65, and those with weakened immune systems to heat cold cuts to 165° F before eating them, due to the possible presence of Listeria, a hard-to-kill bacterium that grows even when refrigerated. Did you know that? We didn’t.

There have been many cases of infection due to seafood, hot dogs, raw unpasteurized milk and cheese, as well as this one caused by lunch meat and detailed in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on October 25, 2002:

A multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections with 46 culture-confirmed cases, seven deaths, and three stillbirths or miscarriages in eight states has been linked to eating sliceable turkey deli meat. Cases have been reported from Pennsylvania (14 cases), New York (11 in New York City and seven in other locations), New Jersey (five), Delaware (four), Maryland (two), Connecticut (one), Massachusetts (one), and Michigan (one).

Find general CDC information regarding Listeria here. and resources specifically for pregnant women here. No one is saying we can’t enjoy a hoagie but let’s be careful out there. Have a Happy National Cold Cuts Day!

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays

March 1 is National Pig Day

national pig day

Princess Cali – credit: ctpost

Mary Lynn Rave and her sister Ellen Stanley created National Pig Day in 1972 “to accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place as one of man’s most intellectual and domesticated animals.”

Pigs are intelligent, using various oinks, grunts, and squeals to communicate with each other. They excel in tests requiring the location of objects and can use mirrors to do so, a talent they share with chimpanzees.

They are social and learn from each other, cooperating to accomplish tasks such as breaking out of a pen or finding food. A pig can be trained to manipulate a joystick with its snout and play a simple game, meaning it could probably kick our butts at Pong.

Unfortunately, somebody figured out long ago that pigs are delicious. They are the only honorees we know of that have the dubious distinction of being enthusiastically consumed on the holiday that celebrates them.

Should you show your appreciation by forgoing bacon, chops, and ribs today? (We know what Princess Cali would say.) Have a happy National Pig Day!

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays