Heat-seekers will compete to down world’s hottest peppers

Red hot chili peppers: Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper peppers hold the Guinness world record for hottest peppers.
Ed Currie

They’re pepper pigs!

A peck of brave — and possibly insane — heat-seekers will compete to cram as many of the world’s hottest peppers down their gullets as possible at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint on April 26.

This contest is no light-weight jalapeno-chomping contest with your buddies, said the organizer of the face-off.

“Chili-eating is definitely an extreme sport,” said Ed “Smokin’ Ed” Currie. “First, you get a really sweet sensation, and then the heat starts coming and you’re just thinking, ‘Oh dear god, what have I done?’ There is no stopping the ride at that point.”

Currie is the mad horticulturist behind the Carolina Reaper, a red-hot pepper that in 2013 took the Guinness world record for hottest chili. He is also the founder of the aptly-named Puckerbutt Pepper Company, a hot sauce manufacturer in South Carolina.

In Currie’s contest, players must eat as many of the peppers as they can in one minute. But that’s not the hard part. The real challenge begins when the contenders then battle to keep the peppers in their stomachs for five minutes.

Currie said it is around this time that participants start to question their choices — that is, if they manage to stay conscious.

“Of course there’s regret,” he said. “Every time I do it I’m like, ‘Why did I do this again?’ ”

Peppers are measured by the concentration of capsaicin, the chemical that causes spiciness, and the Carolina Reaper regularly measures more than twice as much of the stuff as the legendary ghost pepper, which previously held the crown.

If that sounds abstract, Currie said to think of a jalepeno like a beer, a ghost pepper like a shot of rum, and a Reaper like a swig of pure alcohol. Or imagine someone pepper-spraying your tongue, he said. Even Currie does not recommend chewing on his own creation.

“There are only about 100 people in the world who can and do eat these on a regular basis, and the rest of the world cannot and should not try,” he said.

But for those brave, reckless souls who want to take a walk on the wild side?

“All I can do is warn you, it’s stupid, and it is gonna hurt,” Currie said.

The NYC Hot Sauce Expo at the Brooklyn Expo Center (72 Noble St. between Franklin and West streets in Greenpoint, www.nychotsauceexpo.com). April 25 and April 26 at 10 am–6 pm. $10. Pepper-eating contest April 26 at 4 pm.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Hot for Reaper: “Smokin’ Ed” Currie, the founder of Puckerbutt Pepper Company, holds his creation the Carolina Reaper pepper.
Ed Currie

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