Wilbur Scoville was born on Jan. 22, 1865 and because of him we can gauge how spicy a pepper is.
Scoville worked as a pharmacist and while working for the pharmaceutical company Parke-Davis, Scoville was attempting to improve the production of their painkilling cream "Heet Liniment." The active ingredient in the cream was capsaicin, the element that makes peppers spicy and through the development of the product, he single-handedly created the "Organoleptic Test."
Back then, the only way to determine the spiciness of pepper was to have someone taste it. So Scoville would dry the peppers and add them to oil to extract the flavour compounds. Sugar would then be added to the oil and given to the tasters. The amount of sugar added to each pepper extract to make their spice undetectable is how the "Organoleptic Test" worked, and the Scoville scale was born.
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