Food: Popularity of Spicy Food Keeps Heating Up

One trend that has been rocking the food world in the past few years is the increased popularity of spicy food, and the skyrocketing levels of heat. Pepper growers are constantly trying to one up each other to see who can develop the spiciest fruit, and we’re starting to go beyond daredevil edibles and into chemical warfare.

These peppers aren’t playing around. One pepper enthusiast learned this the hard way while eating a particularly spicy ghost pepper. The pepper puree served on a cheeseburger was so hot it actually tore a hole in his esophagus and required serious medical intervention. Thankfully, the man ended up being okay after his throat was repaired, but he was still forced to stay in the hospital for three weeks. The craziest thing about this story? That’s not even the hottest pepper out there!

The Carolina Reaper is currently the Guinness World Record holder for “the world’s hottest pepper” at a whopping 1.5 million Scoville units. That’s 275 times hotter than a jalapeño (which is about 3,000-5,000 units) and 10 times hotter than a habanero (around 200,000-500,000). To really get an idea of just how hot this thing is, high-grade pepper spray is about 2 million units, and this is hotter. But of course, what’s the point of having a pepper this hot if you can’t dare your friends to eat it?


That’s why they went so far as to create a novelty chip so you can experience the record-setting spice for yourself. Reaper Madness, as the chip calls itself, comes individually wrapped and is shipped in a cute little coffin—so don’t ever say there isn’t truth in advertising. The package only includes a single chip, but considering how savage this spiciness is they should just change the tagline to “bet you can’t eat just one.” One video of people trying to eat the world’s spiciest chip is enough to vicariously make your eyes water. Even a half-gallon of ice cream on standby wasn’t enough to abate the pain this pepper brought to the testers.

The fanatics find a rush in tasting spicy food and eating hot peppers that can be compared to the same kind of contained excitement you might feel on a roller coaster. The body feels as though it’s in danger (and feels a lot of pain), so it boosts your endorphin levels. It can result in a feeling of wellbeing that’s not unlike a “runner’s high.” Chili peppers can actually have plenty of health benefits in moderation. The active ingredient that makes peppers hot, capsaicin, can help reduce muscle pain and inflammation while also improving your heart health.

Chili peppers have been helping to spice up the lives of people for thousands of years and the latest craze is just another example of their continued popularity. We’ll keep eating peppers as long as they continue to be delicious and you can bet that if they keep making spicier peppers, some people will be crazy enough to try them (and film themselves doing it).