Is There a Trick to Picking a Sweet Bell Pepper Every Time?

Have you ever noticed that some bell peppers have four lobes (or bumps) while others have three? A persistent myth that gets passed around Facebook and other social media platforms claims that the number of lobes on green peppers reveals its gender — whether you're looking at a male or female bell pepper. But many other sources have set the record straight. In fact, there aren't male and female bell peppers, because the produce doesn't have a gender. They're the fruits of the pepper plant, which grows flowers that have both male and female reproductive parts.

But there's another bell pepper-related myth that still makes the rounds, relating to which bell pepper is sweetest. The idea is that bell peppers with four lobes are sweeter than those with three, and therefore best eaten raw, while three-lobed peppers should be cooked or grilled up. The factoid often comes paired with the claim that four-lobed peppers contain more seeds and are better for people interested in planting their own crop.

The truth? Most reputable sources agree that a pepper's sweetness has more to do with its ripeness than how many lobes it has. Reuters notes that red peppers tend to be sweeter than green peppers, as they're fully mature. The number of lobes has more to do with variety, growing conditions, and genetics than anything else.

That said, this claim could make a fun experiment to try with your kids (and may prompt them to eat more veggies). Next time you're at the grocery store, pick up peppers with three and four lobes, and conduct a taste test to see for yourself. If you don't hit on a sweet pepper, you can always toss them on the grill.