Last month the Guinness Book of World Records deemed the Fort Mill, South Carolina-grown Carolina Reaper pepper to be the hottest on earth, ending a 4-year debate on the matter.
The bumpy, oily, bright red fruit, which resembles the shape of a scorpion tail at the base, is grown by Ed Currie, and is nearly as hot as most standard issue pepper sprays used by law enforcement.
The heat of the pepper, gauged by Scoville Heat Units, was determined by students at Winthrop University. A zero rating is bland, and a regular jalapeno pepper registers at around 5,000 on the Scoville scale. Currie’s record-setting Carolina Reapers came in at 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units, with an individual pepper measured at 2.2 million. Police pepper spray typically scores at about 2 million Scoville Units.
Check out a clip of Chuck From the Bronx sampling a Carolina Reaper:
The science of gauging the heat of peppers is centered around chemical compounds called capsaicinoids. The higher the concentration of capsaicinoids, the hotter the pepper, according to Cliff Calloway, a Winthrop University professor whose students tested Currie’s peppers.
Currie calls his record setters HP22Bs, for "Higher Power, Pot No. 22, Plant B," and claims to have peppers from other pots and plants that maintain comparable heat. Though, some are skeptical of Currie's achievement. Paul Bosland, director of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University, pointed out that the heat of a pepper not only relies on genetics, but also where it is grown. Currie shrugs off those sorts of questions, and commented, "What’s the sense in calling something a record if it can’t be replicated? People want to be able to say they ate the world’s hottest pepper."
Currie's ultimate plan regarding hot pepper domination is to build his Puckerbutt Pepper Company into a business that he can retire on before his small children grow up. What started as a backyard hobby has grown into a company with twelve employees, offering sauces and mustards with names like "Voodoo Prince Death Mamba," "Edible Lava" and "I Dare You Stupit."
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. pepper consumption has increased by 8 percent within the last 5 years.
Image via YouTube.