(I've been meaning to mention these for a while.)
We've all seen 'em in Chinese take-out food, and most of us ignore 'em:
Now why am I pushing whole dried chilis? Two reasons:
1) They are great in cooking (more down below) and,
2) They make good TEOTWAWKI prep (they don't go bad).Amazon
shows a 3.5 oz bag for $8. Screw that. Go to an Asian market and get a large bag of dried Thai chilis. I bought my first one pound bag (for well under $10) back around 1991. I finally ran out about 3 years ago and replaced it. Now why buy a pound of dried chilis? Who is going to ever eat that much? Buying a pound of chilis is economical. On top of that, you can make your own crushed red pepper flakes (keeping an empty jar to refill). Snap off the woody end and crush with your fingers into a bowl. Collect some of the seed 'shake' at the bottom of the bag. Put into your old crushed red pepper container and use as before. By adding as you need it, it keeps the pepper fresher: I use the crushed whole chilis in so many things. You can also grind them up to a fine powder and use as a substitute for ground cayenne pepper. I use whole chilis in my Chinese cooking and add them to chilies, soups, beans and the like (removing if the heat gets a little too strong).
As for TEOTWAWKI, going back to the peppercorns, these are lightweight, cheap, last forever, and can be used in a multiple of ways, including as an animal repellent. (My friend feeds her large parrots whole chilis as a snack; they absolutely love them.)