This Spicy Pepper Was Once Used To Punish Misbehaving Children

Back in 2006, "The Facts of Life" actress Lisa Whelchel sparked a fiery debate among parents across the world when she admitted on national television that she not only approves of, but also herself uses the "hot saucing" method to discipline her children (via ABC News). She explained that the sting and pain of a drop of hot sauce rubbed on her child's lip was a memory that prevented them from lying or misbehaving in the future.

In 2014, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver got into hot water as well when he told "BBC Good Food Show" of an incident when he rubbed Scotch bonnet chili onto his daughter's apple as a means of punishing her for bad behavior (via The Sydney Morning Herald). Not only were experts, child psychiatrists, and social workers across the world outraged, but so was his wife, Oliver confessed.

While it may seem wild, bizarre, and frankly, extreme, all sorts of spicy peppers being used as an effective form of punishment for unruly children has a long history, dating back to the Aztecs (via Mental Floss).

The Aztecs used smoking chilis

While forms of discipline like spanking, hot saucing, and using chilis with children that misbehave have long divided parents and anybody who works with children, the Aztecs certainly had no qualms about using hot chili peppers to punish children.

According to Mexicolore, Aztec parents were loving no doubt, but were also strict and firm when it came to discipline. Children under the age of 10 generally had a bit more leeway but kids as young as 9 could be punished with cactus spines. After the age of 12, the punishments became crueler and parents could even take their kids to court over bad behavior.

Based on Aztecan manuscripts of Codex Mendoza and Florentine Codex, Mexicolore noted that there is evidence that Aztec children used to be punished for misbehavior by being forcefully held over smoking chillis. Although used in extreme circumstances where the Aztecs admitted that a cruel punishment was required, the smoking chilis could cause children to cry at the very least and cause difficulty in breathing in more serious cases.

In fact, the smoke from the chilis could deprive children of oxygen and in extreme cases led to death. There's even a legend that Aztecs locked bed chambers and burned chilis outside the doors to kill enemies with suffocation from the smoke!

While Oliver, Whelchel, and even the Aztecs might have been in favor of using chili peppers as a form of punishment, Dr. Phil certainly isn't. When a 36-year-old mother of six from Alaska, Jessica Beagley, came onto Dr. Phil's show in 2011 after hot saucing her kids to discipline them, Dr. Phil had one thing to say: child abuse (via ABC News).