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Mama Zuma's Revenge, Caveat Emptor, And Natural Consequences

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.