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Pepper X crowned the world’s hottest pepper by Guinness World Records

A Pepper X pepper is shown on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, in Fort Mill, S.C. The pepper variety is now the hottest pepper in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

FORT MILL, S.C. (WISH) – Pepper X is officially the world’s hottest chili pepper, with an average sizzling rating of 2,693,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).

Pepper X dethroned the previous record holder, the Carolina Reaper, when Guinness World Records named it the hottest pepper in the world on Oct. 9.

The pepper is grown by “Smokin” Ed Currie, an American chili pepper breeder based in South Carolina. He unveiled Pepper X on an episode of the hit YouTube series Hot Ones.

Currie is the founder of the PuckerButt Pepper Company and the creator of the Carolina Reaper, which Guinness named the hottest pepper in the world in 2017.

He says the Carolina Reaper is hotter than most pepper sprays used by police, but Pepper X is three times hotter than the Reaper’s 1.64 million Scoville Heat Units.

Currie told the Associated Press that this newest recognition ends his decadelong hunt to perfect a pepper that provides “immediate, brutal heat.”

“I was feeling the heat for three-and-a-half hours. Then the cramps came,” said Currie, one of only five people so far to eat an entire Pepper X, according to the Associated Press. “Those cramps are horrible. I was laid out flat on a marble wall for approximately an hour in the rain, groaning in pain,” said Currie.

Pepper X is greenish-yellow, doesn’t have the same shelf appeal as the Carolina Reaper, and carries an earthy flavor once its heat is delivered.

Currie says the new pepper is a crossbreed of a Carolina Reaper and what he classifies as a “pepper that a friend of mine sent me from Michigan that was brutally hot.”

Previously, he allowed people to grow the peppers without protecting his ideas. His lawyers have counted more than 10,000 products that use the Carolina Reaper name or other intellectual property without permission.

However, this time around, Currie is protecting Pepper X. He told the AP that no seeds will be released until he is sure his children, his workers, and their families can fully earn the rewards of his work.

“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.

This work includes dozens of fields across York County in South Carolina, secret greenhouses where Currie works on peppers to prevent ideas from being stolen, and a PuckerButt store in Fort Mill, South Carolina, where Currie works on dozens of sauces ranging from mild to blazing hot.

Feeling the heat

Heat in peppers is measured in Scoville Heat Units. The Scoville Scale is used to measure the spiciness and overall heat of chili peppers. It’s based on the concentration of capsaicin, an active part of chili peppers that causes a burning sensation when it makes contact with human tissue.

A rating of zero is bland, and a regular jalapeno pepper registers about 5,000 units. A habanero, the record-holder about 25 years ago, typically tops 100,000 SHU.

Pepper X’s record is an average of 2.69 million units. By comparison, pepper spray commonly holstered by police is around 1.6 million units while bear spray advertises at 2.2 million units.

The Scoville Scale, which measures heat in peppers. (Provided Photo/National Institute of Standards and Technology)
The Scoville Scale measures heat in peppers. (Provided Photo/National Institute of Standards and Technology)