Popeyes' Ghost Pepper Wings Have Returned For A Limited Time

According to Big Think, humans are unique in our love of all things spicy. While other animals will forgo eating foods that cause unpleasant bodily responses, humans happily seek out such experiences. Capsaicin, which gives peppers their intense bite, may have evolved as a method of stopping mammals from eating the vegetable, as birds are immune to pepper seeds' spicy effects. (Birds are integral in spreading seeds so they can propagate in numerous areas, so it makes sense that peppers would have evolved this defensive tactic against ravenous mammalian taste buds.)

But proving that humankind is as inscrutable as the universe itself, the tactic seems to have backfired. Humans love torturing themselves with the hottest of hot foods, which researchers believe may be a method of controlled thrill-seeking; spicy foods elicit a similar "defense response" as jump scares and extreme sports (per Big Think). This defense response is particularly strong when facing down a ghost pepper, which PepperScale reports to be 1,041,427 Scoville heat units (SHU). According to MasterClass, the Scoville scale was developed in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville and calculates the specific level of capsaicin in a pepper. Based on the scale, the ghost pepper ranks six, with pure capsaicin at the top (equivalent to 16,000,000 SHU). 

Despite the high SHU, though, people love ghost peppers. And similarly beloved nationwide chicken chain Popeyes is capitalizing on people's taste for ghost pepper-flavored pain with the limited release of a special menu item.

Popeyes proves being ghosted can be a good thing

In a January 3 press release, Popeyes announced that its ghost pepper wings are back on the menu. (Per Fox Business, ghost pepper wings first became available at the chain in 2014.) Heat-seeking diners can enjoy six wings for $5 at participating locations across the nation. 

The fast-casual establishment uses a special ghost-pepper derived spice blend, which infuses with the wings for 12 hours to ensure the perfect amount of heat and bite. To entice diners even further, Popeyes is offering 200 bonus loyalty points when they order the wings on the app or the Popeyes website.

Because you can't have spicy without sweet, Popeyes has also tweaked its dessert menu. Diners can now enjoy the strawberry cheesecake cup and blueberry lemon pie to cool down their palates. All of the new menu offerings are only available for a limited time, and the chain doesn't specify just how long customers will have to get their fill. However, a previous news release states that the ghost pepper wings were available from December 26 to January 25 during the 2014 launch.