Darren Doyle, story and photos:
You've probably seen the many videos and clips floating around social media and the internet, of people (idiots) munching down on the Carolina Reaper, the world's hottest pepper. Anyone that would do this for fun or for nutritional value should seek mental help. I know, because as someone who has eaten and enjoyed hot peppers my entire life, this was a unique experience that's not for the faint-hearted.
The hottest known pepper in the entire world is the Carolina Reaper, developed by Ed Currie, in a greenhouse in Rock Hill, South Carolina. It was certified as the world's hottest Pepper on August 11, 2017 by the Guinness Book of World Records. For whatever stupid reason, I raised two hills of them in my garden this year.
Peppers or other hot substances are measured from what's known as the Scoville scale. It is based on the concentration of capsaicinoids, among which capsaicin is the predominant component. Capsaicin is the ingredient in peppers that make them hot, and it's measured on the scale in Scoville heat units, or SHU.
You can see from the above graphic how different peppers add up on the scale. If you think jalapenos are hot...think again. According to the chart, the reaper is 150X hotter than the hottest jalapeno you've ever eaten. One hundred. Fifty times hotter. The reaper is something unlike I've ever experienced, and I'll get to that shortly.
First, I know there will be some reading this that will say "oh, it's not really that hot," or "they ain't no hotter'n my cousin's hot wings!" You can say whatever you want, but you're wrong. People eat for only two reasons. 1. Nutritional value 2. Enjoyment (or both, of course). Then I guess there's reason 3--when the doctor makes you drink that gallon of stuff before you have a colonoscopy but that's different article I'll write someday on "Edmonson Voice After Dark."
My Grandaddy, Wavie Skaggs, raised one of the finest gardens in all of Edmonson County, and he was a cayenne pepper guy. He raised hill after hill of them and ate the peppers with literally every meal he had. He'd sometimes catch us kids not looking (including me at about 5 years old) and stick a broken end of one on our lip. One thing he didn't do, was eat an entire pepper alone for the sake of getting attention or looking tough. The folks that are doing that are simply stupid.
No, I didn't do like the morons of the internet are doing, chomping an entire reaper pepper alone. You also have the folks that get sweaty at the Mexican restaurant, eating house chips and salsa. They smell the pepper and start crying. Why would you do this? You also have videos with dudes covered in tats with thick Duck Dynasty beards in "don't tread on me" or "Punisher" shirts. They must be tough, right? Well, it's the same reaction for everyone. I didn't eat an entire pepper at once, because we that enjoy hot peppers don't eat any peppers like that. The same as you don't eat an entire sweet pepper or onion at once. Peppers are usually meant to be additions to other dishes. Obviously, some of these guys knew they were in for it and ate the whole thing (or more than one) for the shock factor, but I did not.
I raised a nice little garden this year and just for the sake of doing so, I threw in a couple of plants of these reapers. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Well, I fussed around and found out. I ate about a third of one in one bite along with some tacos we had at home. I also didn't video myself so people could see me writhing in pain. That's also stupid. It's about as stupid as eating a Carolina Reaper.
So I took a bite of my taco and then bit into the reaper. At first, the heat was pretty normal, but the taste of the pepper itself was gross. It just didn't taste good. It was similar in taste to a habanero or bonnet, which are also really hot without much taste, but it tasted like it was scorched (no pun intended).
Within about 7 seconds, the heat was intense, but not like a hot cayenne, jalapeno, or serrano. I raised some nice serranos this year and boy, were they hot, but if eaten in small bites with other dishes, those were great.
What wasn't great was this stupid, cursed, no-good, four-flushing, slimy piece of worm-ridden filthy Carolina Reaper. With sweat and drool pouring, my throat was also on fire...but that wasn't the worst part.
My chest. I had a little trouble breathing and every breath in and out seemed as if they were fanning the flames of the pepper. It felt just like I had a severe sore throat with bronchitis, except when you're sick, it doesn't hurt too bad when you don't swallow, or when taking shallow breaths. In this case, there was no relief. No position I could get in worked, milk and bread, and all that are useless, and saying bad words just makes your mouth hotter, so I just started eating my tacos faster, hoping it would subside. It was bad for longer than I had hoped, and I only ate one-third of the pepper. I burped right after eating it. I'm pretty sure I singed the table with a short burst of reaper napalm.
Then came the bathroom.
Without revealing too much, you ever seen a space shuttle launch on TV? It was something like that. Maybe I'll share the rest some other time (again, Edmonson Voice After Dark).
So, my conclusion is this. Don't eat this pepper. It's terrible. It's hot, it's awful, it tastes bad, and there's nothing enjoyable about it at all. If you want to just so you can say you did, well, there's that, but let me save you the trouble. For one quick moment, my life flashed before my eyes. People have actually ended up in the hospital over these. I am a believer in Heaven and Hell, and I also believe there are horrible things happening right now in Hell. Somewhere in the middle of all that, someone's being forced to eat a Carolina Reaper.