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Guinness Book of World Records names a new hottest pepper: Pepper X

SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

What's small, wrinkly, greenish-yellow and somehow more potent than some of the chemical sprays used to ward off bears? That would be the newest Guinness-certified hottest pepper in the world, Pepper X. It's about three times hotter than the previous record holder, the Carolina Reaper, which was also developed by South Carolina pepper enthusiast Ed Currie. Ed Currie joins us now. Hey, there.

ED CURRIE: Hey. How are you doing?

DETROW: I'm good 'cause I haven't eaten one of these lately. I need to start with the key question - what does this thing taste like?

CURRIE: Well, it actually tastes really good when you use it in sauce or salsa. But when you try to eat the pepper raw, there really isn't any flavor because the heat hits you immediately.

DETROW: Yeah. Tell us about your experience of eating this thing raw. I understand it was not the most pleasant moment of your life.

CURRIE: When I put that pepper in my mouth, immediately the heat hit me, and it was like a nuclear bomb going off in my stomach. And just the heat rose from the pit of my stomach, all the way through to the tippy-top of my head. And that lasted for, you know, a good two, three hours.

DETROW: Three hours?

CURRIE: Yeah. And those cramps are unbelievable. And I laid on a marble slab in the rain, groaning in pain for over an hour. But being the person that I am, when everything was over and we all decided to go out to eat, we ate hot peppers again at dinner.

DETROW: Having just heard your explanation of what that felt like, what is the value for you in creating something this hot?

CURRIE: Well, the value is not in eating the pepper raw. The value is we've created something that's got great flavor when you use it in the right things. And the economy's a scale. We can use less pepper and have higher heat, so we're making sauces at an affordable price. Also, I just - I like breeding peppers, and I like hot stuff. So I keep on trying to breed stuff that's even hotter and hotter and hotter.

DETROW: What - in your testing around, what's the best recipe or what's the best type of food to incorporate a Pepper X in down the line, once people can get them?

CURRIE: You know, I have found that stir fries - if you slice up just a little bit - I mean a sliver - and put it into a pot, you get some of the heat, and you get the flavor of the pepper. We make a sauce that is very high concentrate of the pepper called Gator Sauce. And they had mixed mac and cheese, bacon and the Gator Sauce together, and it was delicious. But the guy told me he used an eighth of a tablespoon. So I'm going to start experimenting with all the different foods we make at home. 'Cause I don't cook with it 'cause I have little kids, and my wife would kill me.

DETROW: (Laughter) You know, I used to hate spicy food. And the older I get, the more I appreciate it, the more I'm using hot sauce in my life. But I think it's going to be a while before I'm up to the Pepper X level.

CURRIE: There's no need to hurt yourself. And it took a real man over there to say, I don't want to go that level yet.

DETROW: I'm a Cholula level guy, and I'm OK with it. Ed Currie - his company, PuckerButt, sells hot sauce and pepper seeds. Thank you so much.

CURRIE: Hey, thank you. It was an honor to be on. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Gurjit Kaur
Gurjit Kaur is a producer for NPR's All Things Considered. A pop culture nerd, her work primarily focuses on television, film and music.
Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.