Are you a fan of spicy foods? How about the hottest pepper in the world? The title is a coveted one, ranked by the Guinness World Records and held by chili farmers looking to challenge the meaning of the word “spicy.”
There are an estimated 50,000 types of chili peppers in the world, resulting from domestication over 6,000 years ago in Peru and Mexico. These peppers file into five categories — Capsicum annuum, Capsicum chinense, Capsicum frutescens, Capsicum baccatum and Capsicum pubescens.
But one ranks above them all as the world’s hottest pepper.
What is the hottest pepper in the world?
The world’s hottest pepper is the Carolina Reaper, grown by Ed Currie of the PuckerButt Pepper Company in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Ranked as the Guinness World Record’s hottest pepper, the Carolina Reaper peaked at about 2.2 million Scoville Heat Units, the scale used to rank how spicy peppers are. It averages around 1.6 million SHU.
For comparison, jalapeño registers about 2,500 to 8,000 SHU and cayenne pepper is 30,000 to 50,000 SHU.
According to Man of Many, Currie created the Reaper by crossbreeding a pepper from a doctor in Pakistan and one from the island of St. Vincent.
Can you eat the world’s hottest pepper?
Can you safely consume a Carolina Reaper? For some, the idea may never cross their mind. In 2018, a 34-year-old man went to the emergency room complaining of severe headaches just days after eating the pepper. Newsweek reported that brain scans revealed constricted arteries that eventually returned to their normal state five weeks later. In 2020, the National Center for Biotechnological Information reported an incident of a 15-year-old boy who ate a Carolina Reaper and had an acute cerebellar stroke two days later after being hospitalized because of headaches.
Others relish an opportunity to eat the world’s spiciest pepper. League of Fire ranks chili eating champions with a specific set of rules — they need the details of the official event, the credentials of the witnesses present and no more than 200 Carolina Reapers can be consumed.
Thetitle is held by Gregory “Iron Guts” Barlow of Melbourne, Australia, who ate 160 Reapers in one sitting. In second place is Dustin “Atomik Menace” Johnson of Las Vegas at 122 peppers.
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What are the top five hottest peppers?
According to PepperHead, here are the five peppers that pack the most heat:
- Carolina Reaper: 2,200,000 SHU
- Trinidad Moruga Scorpion: 2,009,231 SHU
- 7 Pot Douglah: 1,853,936 SHU
- 7 Pot Primo: 1,469,000 SHU
- Trinidad Scorpion Butch T: 1,463,700 SHU
How do you measure how hot a pepper is?
Pharmacist Wilbur Scoville invented the Scoville scale in 1912 to measure a pepper’s heat. According to Masterclass, Scoville tested peppers by mixing sugar water with an alcohol-based extract of capsaicin oil — the chemical compound in chili peppers that makes them hot. Scoville placed the solution with water on taste testers’ tongues and diluted it with water to rank how spicy the testers thought it was.
Now, scientists use a more high tech method instead of tongue testing. High-Performance Liquid Chromatography determines the concentration of capsaicin in a pepper but uses the same Scoville ranking system.
Pure capsaicin ranks at 16 million SHU.
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