Pepper X: This new face-melter is three times hotter than the infamous Carolina Reaper

Oct 17, 2023, 3:56 PM

A Pepper X pepper is shown on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, in Fort Mill, S.C. The pepper variety is now ...

A Pepper X pepper is shown on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, in Fort Mill, S.C. The pepper variety is now the hottest pepper in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

(AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

SALT LAKE CITY — Back in 2013, hot pepper expert Ed Currie set the world record with the Carolina Reaper, his aptly named hybrid that blew by the competition and has held the top spot for the past decade.

But Currie and his team have been busy since then and the latest product of his heat-focused cross-breeding, Pepper X, took a sickle to the Reaper’s record and earlier this month was certified by Guinness World Records as the hottest pepper on the planet.

How hot, you say?

Well, for reference, those jalapeño slices on your nachos come in at about 5,000 Scoville Heat Units, a measure developed in the early 1900s by pharmacist William Scoville. His Scoville scale measures the concentration of capsaicin, the chemical irritant that reads as “heat” to the human brain. Habaneros typically hit about 100,000 on the Scoville measure and the Ghost Pepper about 1 million. Currie’s Carolina Reaper hit a blistering 1.64 million Scoville units but not the newly crowned world champ, Pepper X, raises the bar to 2.69 million units.

Ed Currie holds a handful of his Pepper X peppers on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, in Fort Mill, S.C. The pepper is now the hottest pepper variety in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

For just a bit more context, the pepper sprays typically used by law enforcement measure around 1.6 million Scoville units and the spray designed to fend off aggressive bears, about 2.2 million units, according to the Associated Press.

Account of eating a Pepper X

While Pepper X establishes a new benchmark for Currie’s pursuit of the ultimate hot pepper, his accounting of actually consuming his new creation isn’t exactly enticing.

“I was feeling the heat for three-and-a-half hours. Then the cramps came,” said Currie, one of only five people so far to eat an entire Pepper X, per AP. “Those cramps are horrible. I was laid out flat on a marble wall for approximately an hour in the rain, groaning in pain.”

Currie told BBC News that the development of Pepper X at his South Carolina farm was kept under wraps, a cautionary approach that was likely fueled by the fallout from his development of the Carolina Reaper. Currie failed to assert proprietary protections of his Reaper hybrid and he says some 10,000 products were developed using the pepper, and its name, without his permission.

This time around, Currie is keeping a tight rein on any proliferation of Pepper X and said he will not distribute seeds of his latest creation until his family members and the workers at his Puckerbutt Pepper Co. operation get paid for the effort.

“Everybody else made their money off the Reaper,” Currie told AP. “It’s time for us to reap the benefits of the hard work I do.”

Creation of Pepper X

Currie said Pepper X is a crossbreed of a Carolina Reaper and what he mysteriously classifies as a “pepper that a friend of mine sent me from Michigan that was brutally hot”, according to AP.

During an appearance on Youtube channel First We Feast, Currie said the process of coming up with new super-hot peppers also includes consideration of what the final product will taste like.

“You can make something really, really hot but if it tastes like crap you can’t do anything with it,” Currie said.

In addition to developing new pepper strains, Currie’s company offers a wide variety of hot pepper products for sale including raw peppers, sauces and other condiments. Currie said that one of the best parts of his job is watching people experience tasting one of his hot peppers or sauces for the first time.

“I like the way people look when they get really scared eating my hot sauce,” Currie said.

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Pepper X: This new face-melter is three times hotter than the infamous Carolina Reaper