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Daringly Spicy: Eating Peppers You Simply Cannot Handle

While some people have competitive sports, or feats of strength to prove their fortitude and resolve, there are others, albeit a small portion of the population that likes to show the world their bravery by eating insanely hot peppers. Admittedly, I went through a brief phase of my own in which I was seeking out hotter and hotter culinary pepper experiences. My journey culminated in a small curry shop in Thailand where I proudly gulped down a curry possessed by a pepper with such ferocity that I was compelled to spend the rest of the day in very close proximity to a toilet. My lasting memory of this experience was not so much the flavor, but of the intense whole body experience of an almost electric quality. Lesson learned. Still, whether it be a particularly male endeavor, a Jack-Ass-styled stunt, or a desire to just have your mind and taste buds blown by an unassuming little fruit (the fruit of a nightshade to be exact) people still comb the globe for a chili that constitutes the ultimate in spice intensity.

There are numerous accounts and video documents of foolhardy individuals subjecting themselves to insanely spicy chili peppers. The latest video to circulate comes from a somewhat unlikely source, an NPR reporter from WFAE in South Carolina. Marshall Terry, a reporter for this NPR member station, took it upon himself to sample one of a local farmer Ed Currie’s HP22B pepper, noted as one of the hottest chili peppers in the world. The brave, or idiotic depending on how you view it, Terry sampled one of Currie’s HP22B peppers and immediately suffered the consequences:

Instead of just reaching for a beer and wiping the tears from his eyes, Terry truly suffers, as would anyone eating a chili with as much heat as this one. It is the capsaicin inherent in the peppers that cause, that burning sensation, which is registered in Scoville units, and is the measurement of heat in any one single pepper. The higher the Scoville units the spicier the pepper. This particular pepper had an estimated 1.4 million Scoville units, which, to give you a frame of reference, those hot little jalapeño peppers contain about 3 to 8 thousand Scoville units. Comparing intensities would be like measuring a vibration from a moderate stereo to the vibrations coming off of a sizable Pacific Rim earthquake.

Now besides scorching the inside of your GI tract and causing hallucinations, capsaicin offers other benefits as well. There are numerous medical applications of capsaicin, both therapeutic and preventative, including everything from sprains to cancer treatment. The extent of the applications and benefits are barely known at this point. But for now, we have the reckless and the daring to demonstrate how not to enjoy a pepper.

Do you find these sorts of stunts objectionable, entertaining or both? Have you ever eaten a pepper that was way too spicy for you? Do you have an immediate remedy for fire in the hole? Milk? Beer? Whiskey? Prayer?

Read more: Blogs, Eating for Health, Following Food, Food, Health, Videos, , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

60 comments

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11:45PM PST on Mar 2, 2013

I love spicy -- most of the food I cook has a measurable capsaicin content -- but have never felt the need to get into a "Jackass" -style contest about how hot I can handle.

Something bready, or fatty like milk or full-fat yogurt can help with overly-hot accidents.

1:58PM PST on Mar 1, 2013

Sounds insane!

1:42PM PST on Dec 14, 2012

I would love to try it, I also heard about the health benefits of capsaicin. Once I was at a pepper farm in Washington and tried one of those red chilis. If my tongue had a voice it would be screaming at me but it was worth it anyway. I actually enjoyed it, although I had to have a tomato later to cool down. Since then I fell in love with spicy stuff.

8:24AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Some spicy foods are pleasant, but extra spicy to the point where your mouth becomes A Ring Of Fire is where I draw the line. Don't mind new taste sensations but prefer to keep and not melt down my taste buds for future use. I have a good idea of what my limit is and tend to stick to it. Any peppers marked "Your Doom Is Sealed!", is something to avoid.

8:24AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Some spicy foods are pleasant, but extra spicy to the point where your mouth becomes A Ring Of Fire is where I draw the line. Don't mind new taste sensations but prefer to keep and not melt down my taste buds for future use. I have a good idea of what my limit is and tend to stick to it. Any peppers marked "Your Doom Is Sealed!", is something to avoid.

8:24AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Okay, what just happened, did not even hit the comment button twice! The Ring Of Fire is after me, no doubt.

8:46PM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

Interestingly spicy info ;-)

10:25AM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

crazy.

6:07AM PST on Nov 20, 2011

wow

10:16AM PST on Nov 18, 2011

I like Indian Food too,

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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