Who was he?

Scoville-Wilbur_ProfWilbur Lincoln Scoville known as Wilbur Scoville was a famous American pharmacist who created the Scoville Organoleptic Test. He was from Connecticut, Bridgeport. He is the son of Lemuel Scoville and Adaline Augusta Scoville. He was said to have been born by the end of civil war. The exact date is 22nd January, 1865. He died at the age of 77 years in the year 1942, cause of death is unknown. He was in Gainesville, Florida at the time of his death.

Wilbur Scoville’s Family

He was married in the Wollaston neighborhood of Quincey, Massachusetts in 1891. The lucky girl was Miss Cora B. Upham. He fathered two children. Amy Augusta his daughter was born August 21st 1892. His son Ruth Upham was born in on 21st October 1897. Both his children have something in common and the thing is the birth day of 21st day of a month.

Why was he famous?

He was famous for inventing the Scoville Organoleptic Test which he invented in the year 1912. He studied at the Colombia University with George P. Shultz, where both of them earned their honorary degrees. After that he was already a man with brilliance, he published his first book The Art of Compounding in the year 1895. The book was the reference for pharmacological society for the time and went through 8 editions. One of the exiting statements in the book is that milk is the remedy for pepper heat. His second book was Extracts & Perfumes which contains hundreds of formulas. He was also a professor for the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences for some time.

The Scoville Organoleptic Test

While working for Parke Davis he formulated the Scoville organoleptic test. The company was focusing on narcotics development at the time. He joined Parke Davis in 1907 as a research chemist, but in the year 1912 he devised the Scoville Organoleptic Test. The target of the test was to measure the hotness or spiciness or pungency of chili peppers. Before the organoleptic test, human analyzers were utilized to gauge sharpness of peppers; but nobody knew how to quantify the tear-affecting properties of pepper. The Scoville Organoleptic Test has been presently institutionalized as the Scoville scale. The test consists of extracting the capsinoids, the heat producing elements of pepper by dissolving the pepper in alcohol. Then the mixture is diluted in a solution of sugar and water until the testers cannot feel the heat of the pepper in the dilution. The test uses 5 trained testers, the test concludes when at least three testers cannot feel the heat of the pepper. This dilution is then rated in multiples of 100 SHU. This is called the Scoville rating. It is defined by per unit of dry pepper used. One thing to keep in mind though, Scoville rating is based on dry mass of the pepper. A typical chili pepper has a water content of 90 percent; this can often mislead the rating. The rating starts a 0 for bell pepper and goes as high as 2,200,000 units for Carolina reaper. The official Guinness world record for SHU is 1,569,300, which is an average for the batch that was tested. Some of the hottest peppers are as follows Komodo dragon Chili pepper, Naga Viper pepper, Naga Morich, Bhut Jolokia etc.

scoville scale


During his lifetime he has accomplished a lot, he wrote one of the best pharmacological books at the time which was used for reference. He also wrote a book on perfumes. He started working as a research chemist at Parke Davis in 1907, and became Head of Analytical department in 1924. He was awarded the Ebert Prize in 1922 by The American Pharmaceutical Association. Next he was awarded the Remington Honor medal in 1929.

Google doodle

He was brought back to the limelight in recent time; on his 151st birthday Google celebrated his birthday by doing a interactive doodle. The doodle was devised by Olivia Huynh. The doodle was an interactive game where the objective is to beat the heat of peppers by throwing ice cream at them. The game also has some boss peppers. It was a great and entertaining way to learn about peppers while celebrating Wilbur Scoville’s birthday.


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