Food lovers from all around the world will admit they have an inkling for spicy foods. Whether they just like to add a little spice to enhance flavors at lunch or dinner, or consider hot sauce a staple condiment for every meal, peppers and hot sauces have become quite a large part of American culture and the food industry. In recent years, a variety of regions across the United States have made peppers not only a part of their culture, but also a part of their daily meals.

Whether people are adding spice to their favorite meat or vegetable dish, or basing a whole side dish around a spicy pepper, there are many ways to go about adding taste and heat to any meal. Some people are even courageous enough to eat peppers whole while snacking. On the flip side, there are some crazy foodies out there that are willing to accept the challenge of sampling and eating the hottest pepper in the world. The Naga Jolokia, also known as the Ghost Pepper, is the hottest pepper in the world.

In 2007, it was confirmed by the Guinness World Record Association that it is the hottest chili in the world and was rated at 1,001,304 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). This rating is known to be two times higher than the old record holder of the Red Savina Habanero pepper. The pepper is a naturally occurring inter-specific hybrid that originates in the Assam region of northeastern India. Ripe peppers measure around 2.4 inches to 3.3 inches and are usually orange or red in color. They are similar looking to habanero peppers, but have a rougher and dented skin. It's been known that one seed from the Naga Jolokia pepper can produce an intense burning sensation in the mouth for up to 30 minutes before going away. Keep this in mind while deciding whether or not to cook with this pepper!

In some countries, the Naga Jolokia pepper can be used as a cure for stomach ailments and inducing perspiration. In northeastern India, these peppers are also smeared on fences or used in smoke bombs to keep elephants away from neighboring villages.

Naga Jolokia peppers are also easily harvested and require soil temperatures to be between 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit for proper germination. To plant hot pepper seeds the soil should be kept pretty moist, but never dried out or too moist, in order to let the seeds grow. The pepper can take up to 35 days to germinate so it's important to stay patient during the process. The seed themselves don't need too much light to germinate, when compared to other plants, but adequate light is needed for the seedlings. If harvesting at home, look for a bright, south facing window to start the growing process. Remember not to over water the seeds because it could lead to a fungal problem that could kill the young seedlings. For the healthiest plant, the seeds should also be gradually conditioned to growing outdoors for about a week before being planted into a garden.