There's a spicy new addition to Campbell's lineup of soups, but Chunky Ghost Pepper Chicken Noodle won't be hitting grocery store shelves. Instead, would-be taste-testers will have to sign a waiver and hope to be chosen for the opportunity.
Starting Jan. 27 at 1 p.m. ET, spice enthusiasts can visit ChunkySpicyWaiver.com to enter for the chance to be one of 500 chosen to receive a can of the spicy soup, along with a "cool off kit" that contains helpful soup-tasting accessories like a portable fan and some tissues.
The waiver will warn against side effects like "excessive tears, involuntary fanning of the mouth area and the urge to scream, 'Man, that's hot.'" But, it will also advise Campbell's fans that the promotion is all in good fun. On the website for the waiver, where fans can currently sign up for a reminder when form is live, the brand states, "PS: the waiver is just for fun! Did you think our legal team would let us make a legit one?!"
Still, Chunky Ghost Pepper Chicken Noodle is said to be 13 times hotter than Chunky Spicy Chicken Noodle, according to the Scoville scale, a measurement of the spiciness of chili peppers developed by pharmacist Wilbur Scoville in the early 1900s. Chef Rich Hinojosa, executive chef at Crujiente Tacos, works with a variety of chili peppers in the kitchen, and says ghost peppers are among the spiciest out there.
"Something like a banana pepper would be in the 500 SHU (Scoville heat units) range, a jalapeño would be in the 5,000 SHU range, a habanero would be in the 100,000 SHU range and some peppers measure up over 1,000,000 SHU," Hinojosa tells Yahoo Life. "Ghost peppers were at one time the hottest measured pepper in the world, measuring over 1,000,000 SHU."
"I have eaten these peppers fresh, dried and fermented in different varieties of hot sauces," he adds. "Ghost peppers originated in India, and are used to fire up the heat in chutneys and curries."
So what does this soup of high-level spice taste like? I tried a can of Chunky Ghost Pepper Chicken Noodle and was pleasantly surprised by the level of heat. When I opened the pull-top can in my kitchen and took a sniff, I expected to have my nose assaulted by the spiciness of the ghost pepper broth, but that wasn't the case. There was a hint of spice to the soup's aroma, but it was neither overpowering or off-putting.
I love spicy food, so much so that I ask my favorite Thai and Indian restaurants to really turn up the spice and am always looking for the hottest chicken wing varieties, but as much as I'd steeled myself for a kick once I'd heated the soup on my stovetop, the heat level was anything but waiver-worthy.
Instead, the spicy flavors of the soup were perfectly balanced with the flavors of comforting chicken noodle soup ingredients I knew and loved, like noodles, chicken, celery and carrots. The broth was tinted orange from the inclusion of the ghost pepper and the spiciness came on the back end of each bite, more as an aftertaste.
The soup was definitely spicy, but not the kind of experience that would have you breaking into a sweat and running for a glass of milk. That said, the spiciness does build. With each bite, my mouth was a little more aware I was not consuming the average chicken noodle soup. Still, the soup was flavorful and very tolerable.
For those who get their hands on this limited edition of Chunky, Hinojosa has some advice, especially for those who are more sensitive to spice. "I have found that dairy, like milk, yogurt or sour cream, coats the palate and will help cool down the heat from the spice," he says. "My favorite accompaniment to extremely spicy foods is riesling from Germany — it contains acid and a good amount of residual sugar. Not only are the wines delicious, but they will cool down the palate."
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