Image: Dave Winer/Flickr.
The American Chemical Society is pretty much the coolest chemical society on the Internet, and in case you needed further proof, check out this ballin’ Sriracha video. Sriracha, it’s well known, is pretty much the coolest sauce, sort of the American Chemical Society of hot sauces. Sorry, Cholula.
The sauce is enjoying a level of Internet-aided fame on a level once thought only reserved for pets. It’s showing up on Lays (not hip), Kettle chips (fairly hip), and a limited run Brooklyn-based ice cream flavor (+2000 hip). The Sriracha factory is even experiencing a NIMBY-legal battle with Irwindale, California , where citizens complain that the very air is chile/garlic-scented and therefore noxious—not the coolest thing in the world, but nothing brings out fanaticism better than facing opposition. Maybe the factory tours— which are free, but you have to call ahead —can stimulate the Irwindale economy adequately to be forgiven, or maybe Sriracha will just have to move to a state that gets off on poisoning the air, like Texas.
This video is reminiscent of the frenetic Bill Nye videos that were the highlight of those afternoons when our science teachers were too tired to teach (we understand, Mrs. G). It covers the appeal of spicy foods, how we measure spiciness, beyond just the Scoville scale, which—I learned via this video—is fading from prominence. The appeal of Sriracha extends beyond an attractive, iconic bottle, spicy food even has mood enhancing qualities—the capsaicins that give it that zesty bite also trigger the release of endorphins.
The video is part of the ACS's pretty sharp series, “Reactions”. They covered the chemistry of love, artificial snow, chemistry “life hacks” (which presumably isn’t just making someone fall in love with you while snow of your own creation falls all around, although that’d be a pretty good life hack), and five black chemists who changed the world. If there’s one chemical society Youtube channel that I’d recommend, this is the one (that I know of).