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Chris DeMuth Jr.
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"It's not given to human beings to have such talent that they can just know everything about everything all the time. But it is given to human beings who work hard at it - who look and sift the world for a misplaced bet - that they can occasionally find one." - Charlie Munger I look... More
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  • Mama Zuma's Revenge, Caveat Emptor, And Natural Consequences 17 comments
    Dec 20, 2013 4:17 PM

    We picked up lunch today from the new Connecticut Sandwich. While the lunch was excellent and the establishment recommended for anyone looking for a bite in New Canaan, there was one extremely unsatisfied customer who was in line demanding her money back. Her complaint was as follows. She bought and began to consume Mama Zuma's Revenge only to discover that the contents were, in her word, "hot". The gentlemanly proprietor gave her a full refund for her opened and partially consumed chips.

    This type of behavior has got to stop. The customer will be a worse person as a result - needier, whinier, and stupider. Rewarding bad behavior pays people to exhibit bad behavior. But first, one must examine the evidence.

    The customer in question had many potato chip options, but went straight for Mama Zuma's, described as follows,

    Mama Zuma's Revenge is a fiery blend of a habanero mash and our classic barbeque. True to the nature of the habanero, with your first crunch there's a delay that allows you to taste the delicious flavors. But within seconds, the incendiary habanero backdraft will light you up!!

    One lifts the bag from a display that promises that "A HOT fiesta awaits in every bag" (capitalization original) and "WARNING: Mama Zuma may cause an eruption of HOT flavor!" On the packaging, there are a total of five (5) visible cacti and an additional four (4) cacti on the reverse side of the bag, each of which is on fire. A gentleman in a poncho and sombrero is running away from the flames. The background is a desert. The sky is comprised of a massive series of flames. Ms. Zuma herself has a bandolier with six (6) habaneros. She is holding a seventh (7th), which is also on fire. There is a warning label on the back:

    WARNING: These chips are made with some of the hottest peppers on the planet.

    The bag goes on to state,

    Get too close to Mama Zuma and you will get burned. This woman is determined to scorch everyone in her path. Mama Zuma's weapons are the hottest jalapeno and habernero peppers this side of the Rio Grande. Since she lost the love of her life in a bizarre and tragic potato peeler accident, Mama Zuma has been hell bent on burning every mouth she kisses with her special brand of passion.

    One can confirm on the list of ingredients, "habanero powder".

    Habanero chili

    The measurement of pungency is measured by the Scoville scale as reported in Scoville heat units (SHUs), a function of capsaicin concentration.

    Capsaicin is the active component of chili peppers, the plants belonging to the genus Capsicum.

    This scale was named after creator Wilbur Scoville who devised this method, alternatively known at the Scoville Organoleptic Test, in 1912.

    American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville

    How does the habanero stand up on Mr. Scoville's organoleptic test? It is the top.

    It is important to note caution in handling it during preparation let alone eating it. There is a malady known as "Hunan Hands" or "Chile Willy", a painful skin irritation, which can be caused by contact with this chile. To avoid this condition, one should handle habaneros with both rubber gloves and eye protection. Few people fail to heed this advice more than once. To respond to Hunan Hands, treat the affected area with a diluted bleach solution mixed with vegetable oil or milk. If the pepper oil gets in your eyes, douse with water. Note that the above is not a linear scale. Here is how it appears on a linear chart:

    Ms. Zuma is dressed in a low cut shirt with a bare midriff and a skirt with a slit up to her waist. Far be it from me to judge. However, the intent and effect are, in as far as such is possible by a drawing on a potato chip bag, "hot" according to an informal poll of potato chip consumers.

    In conclusion, grievances based on claims that Mama Zuma's Revenge are "hot" fails to meet a reasonable person standard. The relevant community of potato chip consumers' collective judgment should be held to a standard that takes into account the multiple warnings of impending hotness. Typical members of said community should behave in a manner consistent with this consumer only if she likes it "hot". Ms. Zuma poses no threat of harm through her actions or inactions to the public unless that is how they like it.

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Comments (17)
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  • Terrier Investing
    , contributor
    Comments (102) | Send Message
    +1,000,000 (because +1 isn't enough). seriously awesome/hilarious/sad.
    20 Dec 2013, 05:01 PM Reply Like
  • drew111
    , contributor
    Comments (485) | Send Message
    For accuracy's sake habanero is not the hottest. Here is an updated chile chart(imbedded in the article). The Bhut Jolokia is actually quite tastey but is unimaginably hot.



    But getting back to the point, personal responsibility is becoming a very rare quality. The optimist in me says the societal pendulum will eventually swing back. The pessimist tells me we are doomed as a society. Thankfully, I manage to keep the pessimist at bay most of the time.


    More info on the Bhut Jolokia :
    20 Dec 2013, 05:37 PM Reply Like
  • Chris DeMuth Jr.
    , contributor
    Comments (4832) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » You are right and I thought that there was a chance that someone would have something to say about hotter peppers. Thanks for the link.
    20 Dec 2013, 05:40 PM Reply Like
  • drew111
    , contributor
    Comments (485) | Send Message
    I'm one of those hot pepper guys. Hopefully my mild objection does not detract from your otherwise great post.
    20 Dec 2013, 05:46 PM Reply Like
  • jawats
    , contributor
    Comments (6) | Send Message
    My only addendum was that the bhut jolokia was surpassed by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper -


    Chris is right that this behavior should cease - i.e., consumer stupidity, particularly when it's blatant. However, HOW one could stop it in this day and age.....would require a great deal of force....
    22 Dec 2013, 11:48 AM Reply Like
  • Peter Larson
    , contributor
    Comments (642) | Send Message
    If all I get for Christmas is this post, I'll be happy.
    20 Dec 2013, 05:42 PM Reply Like
  • Alpha Vulture
    , contributor
    Comments (67) | Send Message
    I'm wondering how tasty it is to add a bit of pepper spray to your food...
    20 Dec 2013, 06:13 PM Reply Like
  • drew111
    , contributor
    Comments (485) | Send Message
    Can't tell you how it tastes, but I can tell you that my first exposure to it left me feeling like someone had doused my face with gasoline and set it ablaze. I have since developed quite a tolerance to it. Just fyi, my day job requires me to handle and use pepper spray. Getting sprayed is required for certification. But alas I regress. The topic is personal responsibility and the wussification of society....
    20 Dec 2013, 08:11 PM Reply Like
  • Chris DeMuth Jr.
    , contributor
    Comments (4832) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » My wife carries spray (actually gel, but similar); I'm concerned about people being able to build up tolerance, but it is better than nothing and worth having a range of options. If someone was only moderately threatening, her carrying it could save their life.
    20 Dec 2013, 08:15 PM Reply Like
  • drew111
    , contributor
    Comments (485) | Send Message
    Chris, the gel and foam versions have their drawbacks. Mainly assailants can and have wiped the substance off and then thrown it back at the LEO or victim. I prefer the actual spray with a 10+% rating and the higher the better as far as scoville units. The percentage rating can be thought of as how well it sticks to the target. The more it sticks to the target the longer the effects should last. There are variants that contain CN/CS gas with capsaicin. That stuff is nasty and is much harder to clean up. Check your state laws, but even the supposed law enforcement only sprays are actually legal to carry by regular folks in most areas. Not sure if you even wanted any advice, but you got it anyway! lol Judging from your previous writings I believe that you and I have a similar "protection" mindset so I wanted to make you aware of potentially dangerous consequences of using the gel/foam. Even the best pepper products can be overcome by focused willpower and aggression. Furthermore, there is a small percentage of the population that it will not affect at all due to genetics. This genetic mutation crosses all demographics. Frankly those people anger me. I painfully earned my tolerance. They got it for free!
    20 Dec 2013, 08:53 PM Reply Like
  • Chris DeMuth Jr.
    , contributor
    Comments (4832) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Thanks. Much appreciated. This is useful advice.
    20 Dec 2013, 09:13 PM Reply Like
  • Biological
    , contributor
    Comments (377) | Send Message
    Not sure where in the chart fall the peppers put into any Indian "Vindaloo" curry, or where in hell they russle-up those darn things, but they are damned hot! In the old days, one could get a Vindaloo curry in lower Manhattan (in the lower teens, East Side, if I recall) and a couple of kingfishers for 12 or so bucks. And you would get free pain next day, guaranteed.
    21 Dec 2013, 04:28 AM Reply Like
  • jawats
    , contributor
    Comments (6) | Send Message
    Usually some form of this pepper, Biological - I cook a bit of Indian, and there are a serious number of different peppers I've used, from the mild (green) and medium (jalapeno) to the Thai bird's eye (hotter, but not as hot as the habanero).


    BTW, I believe that the hottest pepper is now considered to be the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion - slightly hotter than the bhut jolokia.
    22 Dec 2013, 12:01 AM Reply Like
  • drew111
    , contributor
    Comments (485) | Send Message
    There is one hotter than the Trinidad. The new hottest is a hybrid called the Carolina Reaper. It's supposed to average 1.2 million scoville units or more. One review said the taste had hints of chocolate and cherry. I'm intrigued but very intimidated! lol


    I may be mistaken but I believe it is a hybrid of the Bhut Jolokia and the Trinidad that you mentioned.
    22 Dec 2013, 08:02 AM Reply Like
  • jawats
    , contributor
    Comments (6) | Send Message
    Chocolate...cherry...and "liquid hot magma".
    23 Dec 2013, 10:51 AM Reply Like
  • drew111
    , contributor
    Comments (485) | Send Message
    Well played! lol


    Ain't that the truth!
    23 Dec 2013, 11:04 AM Reply Like
  • sheldond
    , contributor
    Comments (1232) | Send Message


    If you don't blame others, how can you maintain your own perfect image when you make a mistake....(sarcasm)


    Mostly it is this dissonance that rears its ugly head when people pass the buck on dd and trust someone's advice that doesn't go the way they thought it would. This gets compounded when people go all in on risky investments.


    Maybe in your example she was just using the "its too damn hot" chip arbitrage... People really are clueless and everyone wants a refund or a free desert.


    8 Jul 2014, 09:06 AM Reply Like
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