Scoville Scale: How Hot Is Paqui’s One Chip Challenge?

Written by Colby Maxwell
Updated: September 9, 2023
© Adrian_am13/
Share this post on:


It feels like every few weeks, there is some new internet challenge that causes everyone to go into an uproar. Most of the time, the challenges are fleeting and rather silly, but occasionally, a quite memorable challenge comes along and reaches viral status. Today, we are going to discover just how hot Paqui’s One Chip Challenge is, plus learn a bit about the scale used to judge it.

Update on a Death Potentially Caused by the Paqui One Chip Challenge

We’re updating this post to reflect recent news of the unfortunate passing of a teen who attempted the Paqui One Chip Challenge.

On September 1st Harris Wolobah attempted the one-chip challenge. Sometime after eating the chip, he became unresponsive and was transported to a hospital, where he was declared dead.

Despite Paqui chips being labeled as for adults and to be kept out of the reach of children, Tik-Tok memes are popular among younger audiences. In response to the passing of Harris Wolobah, Paqui has voluntarily asked stores to remove its products from shelves.

It should be noted that it will take several weeks for the coroner’s office to determine a cause of death. In general, eating spicy foods doesn’t cause actual physical harm to our bodies, but instead is a neurological signal from our brains that’s a warning not to consume any more of the spicy food. However, there have been scattered incidents of people eating spicy foods and having reactions such as strokes that could have been linked to the spicy food.

How Hot Is Paqui’s One Chip Challenge?

Carolina Reaper Peppers - How Hot is Paqui's One Chip Challenge
Carolina Reapers are one of the hottest peppers in the world.


There is no official Scoville Score for Paqui’s One Chip Challenge. We do know the two peppers that were used in the chip in 2022, though: the Carolina Reaper and the Scorpion Pepper. The hottest of these two is the Carolina Reaper, which regularly has a score of around 2.2 million on the Scoville Scale, making it one of the hottest “things” in the world.

For many people, the challenge results in stomach aches, vomiting, crying, and a bright blue tongue.

When you eat something that is extremely spicy, your body reacts in several ways. The main compound in chili peppers that causes the burning sensation is called capsaicin. When capsaicin comes into contact with your mouth and throat (or any other sensitive skin), it activates receptors in the skin called transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TRPV1), which sends signals to the brain that you are experiencing pain. This also causes the release of endorphins, which can lead to a feeling of euphoria, one of the reasons that people often love to eat spicy foods, despite the pain.

How Do You Do the Challenge?

The Paqui One Chip Challenge is a test of your tolerance for spicy foods. Participants purchase a bag of Paqui’s “One Chip Challenge” chips, which are generally made with at least the Carolina Reaper pepper, considered one of the hottest chili peppers in the world. The rules of the challenge are simple: eat the entire chip and then wait as long as possible before drinking or eating anything else.

On the website, the scale goes as follows:

  • 1 Minute: Powerless
  • 10 Minutes: Powerful
  • 30 Minutes: Supercharged
  • 1 Hour: Invincible

Even people who have been eating spicy food their entire lives don’t get through the challenge unscathed. In fact, there have been some examples of people being in so much pain that they end up calling an ambulance, even though the medical authorities aren’t able to do much.

Until the recent incident, there hadn’t been any reports of significant damage to healthy individuals. However, Paqui is removing its items from shelves as a precaution.

What Is a Scoville?

Scoville Pepper Scale
The Scoville scale is a way to measure the heat level of a wide range of chili peppers.

© Oliinyk

The Scoville unit is a way to measure the heat or pungency of chili peppers. The scale was developed in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville, a chemist working for the Parke-Davis pharmaceutical company. Scoville’s method involved diluting a pepper extract in sugar water and then having a panel of tasters samples the solution. The more dilution needed before the heat was no longer detectable, the higher the pepper’s score on the Scoville scale.

The scale has become so well-known that people use it as a measure of how hot things are in regular language. As we address in this article, the Paqui One Chip Challenge doesn’t itself have a Scoville scale score, although the peppers on it do. Additionally, certain peppers may have certain traits that make them more tolerable or less tolerable, regardless of their Scoville rating. Using a combination of peppers for certain traits is a great way to combine peppers into unique and painful sauces or foods. The Scorpion pepper, for example, isn’t the hottest pepper in the world but is used in the chip’s ingredients because of the “stinging” sensation that it is claimed to provide, whereas the Carolina Reaper is spicier but, to many, tastier.

What Are the Hottest Things on the Scoville Scale?

scorpion pepper
While not as scorching as the Carolina Reaper, the Scorpion Pepper still ranks highly on the Scoville scale.


The Scoville scale ranges from 0 to over 16 million units. Here are some examples of the scale and their associated scores:

  • Bell pepper: 0 Scoville units
  • Jalapeno pepper: 2,500-8,000 Scoville units
  • Serrano pepper: 10,000-25,000 Scoville units
  • Cayenne pepper: 30,000-50,000 Scoville units
  • Habanero pepper: 100,000-350,000 Scoville units
  • Ghost pepper (Bhut Jolokia): 855,000-1,041,427 Scoville units
  • Trinidad Moruga Scorpion: 2,009,231 Scoville units
  • Carolina Reaper: 1,569,300-2,200,000 Scoville units

It’s important to note that due to the subjective nature of the test and the potential variations in pepper heat, the Scoville scale values are approximate. Also, some new methods for measuring the heat of a pepper have been developed, such as the high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method, which is more accurate and consistent, although it isn’t widely known to the public.

Up Next…

Share this post on:
About the Author

Colby is a freelance writer from Charlotte, North Carolina. When he isn't distracted by his backyard birdfeeder, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone around him about what he's recently learned. There's a whole world to learn about and Colby is content to spend his life learning as much as he can about it!

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.