Central Market stores in North Texas are now carrying Mrs. Renfro's newest gourmet salsa - Ghost Pepper Salsa. It's made with Bhut Jolokia, aka ghost pepper, from northeastern India. The Guinness Book of World Records describes it as the world's hottest chili pepper. An online article on Frommer's website said "it's so hot it's used in tear gas and in weapons used by the Indian military."
The Fort Worth-based maker of specialty foods calls Ghost Pepper Salsa its hottest salsa to date and even puts a warning on the label: "Caution: Scary Hot."
"The Bhut Jolokia Pepper has a very nice smoky flavor. Mrs. Renfro's Ghost Pepper Salsa gives you the flavor and the heat. Our staff reaction was 'Boy. It's hot, but good," Becky Renfro Borbolla, vice-president of Renfro Foods, told us.
Borbolla Renfro told NBCDFW the process to create Ghost Pepper Salsa started in August 2009. The company had to buy the pepper in bulk before Renfro Foods President Doug Renfro could create a recipe.
"He [Doug Renfro] created four versions with A having less peppers and D having the most. Doug, my dad [CEO Bill Renfro], and I took A, B, C and D to the Fancy Food Show in NYC in June. We let the buyers and consumers walking the show decide which version we would come out with. Version D won," Renfro Borbolla explained. "We had seven major retailers tell us at the show, 'We want this now. When can I get it on my shelves?'"
Renfro Borbolla also told us there was some competition among brokers for which would get Ghost Pepper Salsa into their stores first.
"Ralph's in California was first. In the DFW area, Central Market is first with Kroger and Market Street right behind. Grocery shelf space is limited, so to get a new product in the stores this fast is wonderful," Renfro Borbolla explained. "The retailers know that the Ghost Pepper is a hot new trend, and they all want it because the consumer wants it."
"Our two top selling salsas, Habanero and Green, were previously our hottest, so there's definitely a demand for more heat," said Doug Renfro.
The guy who wrote the online article for Frommers was at that Fancy Food Show in June and wrote: "But this product's bark is worse than it's bite, and I actually enjoyed the level of heat here...in the single bite I took."