Ed Currie is the pepper expert who grew the Carolina Reaper, which has been considered the hottest pepper in the world since 2013. Ten years later, Currie broke his record with one that is three times hotter: Pepper X.
The Guinness Book of World Records named Currie’s latest creation the world’s “hottest chili pepper” this month.
Guinness uses what are called Scoville Heat Units (SHU) to measure heat in a chili pepper. A normal jalapeno pepper registers about 5,000 units. A habanero, the record-holder about 25 years ago, reaches 100,000 SHU.
The Carolina Reaper held the record since 2013 with 1.64 million SHU. And Pepper X is the new record holder with an average of 2.69 million units. By comparison, pepper spray commonly carried by police is around 1.6 million units. And bear spray, a product to keep bears away, is advertised to have 2.2 million units.
Currie said when he first tried Pepper X, “I was feeling the heat for three-and-a-half hours.” Currie, one of only five people so far to eat an entire Pepper X added, “Then the cramps came.” The cramps, he said, left him lying in pain for another hour.
Currie started working on Pepper X after he set the record in 2013 with the Carolina Reaper. He crossbred 100 different kinds of peppers every year for 10 years. Currie hoped that just one or two would make it through the development process. His goal was to offer an extremely hot pepper flavored with a little sweetness.
Pepper X is greenish yellow. It is a crossbreed of a Carolina Reaper and, what Currie mysteriously called, a “pepper that a friend of mine sent me from Michigan that was brutally hot.”
The chemical in peppers that causes the burn is called capsaicin. The chemical causes a burning sensation when it touches human tissue. The burning sensation is also said to release chemicals into the body called endorphins and dopamine.
Currie started growing peppers after ending drug and alcohol addictions. He considers that sensation a natural “high.” He shares his peppers with medical researchers, hoping they can use them to treat disease and help people who suffer chronic pain or discomfort.
Currie is trying to build a business with his new creation. In the past, Currie permitted people to grow his peppers without protecting his ideas. His lawyers say they have counted more than 10,000 products that use the Carolina Reaper name, or other intellectual property, without permission.
For Pepper X, he said no seeds will be released without his permission. “Everybody else made their money off the Reaper. It’s time for us to reap the benefits of the hard work I do,” Currie said.
Currie wants people to eat peppers and thinks they can gain from the experience that comes after the burn. He warns people from reaching too quickly for a Carolina Reaper or Pepper X.
When asked if Pepper X is the “pinnacle” or the hottest a pepper can be, Currie said with a smile, “No, it’s not the pinnacle.”
I’m Jill Robbins.
Hai Do adapted this report for VOA Learning English from the Associated Press and other sources.
Words in This Story
cramps –n. (usually pl) a feeling of pain and tightening often near the stomach or abdomen or in the muscles
crossbred –v. to purposely breed different versions of similar plants so that the offspring will have certain qualities
addiction –n. a strong and harmful need to regularly have something, often a drug, or to do something like gambling
chronic –adj. (medical) continuing for a long time or repeatedly
intellectual property –n. the inventions of a person that are recognized as that person’s property and which cannot legally be copied
benefits –n. (pl.) the good results of work
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