By: Megan Pasche
I can honestly say that the hottest thing I have ever tasted is Death by Salsa available at Niagara’s Pepper Palace, and it’s not even the hottest thing they have there. It burned, it made me cough, it made my eyes water, and maybe most importantly, it earned me a spot on the Pepper Palace Wall of Flame, an elite group of people who braved some of the hottest of the hot, and whose burnt mouths survived to tell the tale.
Pepper Palace, located in the Fallsview Casino Resort, is sui generis in the Niagara area. Though there are other Pepper Palaces around North America, the Niagara store is the only one in all of Canada, with the next closest being in Chicago.
Though they are most famous for their selection of hot items, they also sell tons of other things. Pierre Lemieux, Marketing Manager for Pepper Palace Canada notes, “We have Canada’s largest selection of hot sauce, then we also have marinades salsas, BBQ sauces, butter, jams and jellies, and pretty soon, we are going to have over 140 different kinds of spices.”
When you walk into Pepper Palace for the first time, you’ll immediately notice the huge selection of sauces; it’s hard not to, there is afterall close to 700 of them lining the walls. Each label is different and uniquely designed, some with names like Colon Cleaner or Pain is Good. They even have a horseradish called Nasal Napalm; one good sniff, and your senses will be snapped awake. The sauces and other items are rated on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the hottest.
That salsa that I tried earlier? It’s a 10+.
There is a large tasting bar featuring over 100 different items, giving people a chance to find their tolerance level for spice. And Pierre shares that the tasting bar is one of the things that makes the Pepper Palace such a fun place to be.
Remembering back to when they first opened in May of 2013, Pierre says, “it was busy right from the time we opened up the doors. It took maybe ten minutes for somebody to try the hottest sauce.” And that’s all part of the fun right? Seeing just how much hotness you can tolerate?
[box type=”shadow”]Did you know?
The heat in peppers comes from capsaicin, which is a colourless, odourless compound. The heat is measured on the Scoville Scale, and the heat is reported in Scoville Heat Units.
The Scoville Scale goes up to 16 million units, which would be pure, crystallized capsaicin.
The hottest pepper in the world is the Carolina Reaper, which rates from 1.5 million to 2 million on the Scoville Scale.
The hottest product available at Pepper Palace rates 9 million units on the Scoville Scale (this product is called Mad Dog Plutonium)
Pepper Palace’s Hottest Sauce in the Universe-2nd Dimension, rates 3.5 million units on the Scoville Scale, and is currently the hottest sauce you are able to purchase.
Ghost Peppers rate 1 million units
Habanero peppers rate 250,000 units
Jalapeno peppers rate 5,000 units
Tabasco sauce rates 5,000 units
Things like milk, sugar and bread can be soothing to a burning mouth, but drinking water won’t help, as capsaicin is not water-soluble. [/box]
The first Pepper Palace was opened in 1989 in a kiosk at a mall in Wisconsin. It grew rapidly in popularity, spreading across the continent. The Pepper Palace headquarters is located in Tennessee and this is where all the Pepper Palace brand products get made (the store sells the Pepper Palace brand, as well as several others).
Pierre relates that at the Pepper Palace Niagara Falls store, “the selection is huge. It is kind of a one stop shop for anything from grilling to gift items.”
Owner Chris Horton also notes that the things that set Pepper Palace apart from other stores are “the sample bar, the overwhelming selection and the exemplary customer service.”
Pepper Palace will be one of the main sponsors for the Big Brothers Big Sisters WingFest that is taking place in Niagara Falls on Canada Day. Not only is it a great fundraising event for a wonderful cause, but the folks at Pepper Palace will also be creating the hottest wing ever, and challenging people to try even just a bite.
Pepper Palace is a great place to stop by if you are looking for something a little different to try. While their best selling products are the spiciest items, those with a more sensitive palate need not worry; there are sauces, salsas and other products to cater to those taste buds that prefer a milder flavour.
And hey, if you are brave enough, you will be able to join me (and about 350 others) on the famous Pepper Palace Wall of Flame!
Pepper Palace is located in the Fallsview Casino Resort. You can visit their website at http://pepperpalace.ca or visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/PepperPalaceNiagaraFalls.com