The Carolina Reaper
Bred in a Rock Hill, South Carolina greenhouse by “Smokin” Ed Currie, proprietor of the PuckerButt Pepper Company in Fort Mill, the Carolina Reaper has been certified as the world’s hottest chili pepper by Guinness World Records since August 7, 2013. The original crossbreed was between a Ghost pepper (a former world record holder) and a red habanero and is named ‘Reaper’ due to the shape of its tail. The official Guinness World Record heat level is 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), according to tests conducted by Winthrop University in South Carolina. The figure is an average for the tested batch; the hottest individual pepper was measured at 2.2 million SHU.
At the second Annual New York City Hot Sauce Expo on March 30, 2014, Guinness World Records presented Ed Currie with his world record. There, an eating competition occurred and Russel Todd won the contest, consuming three Carolina Reapers in 12.23 seconds, a new Guinness record. This record was beaten in September 2014 by Jason McNabb, who finished three peppers in 10.95 seconds.
The pepper has been described as “a good all-rounder to try at home” by UK ethnobotanist James Wong who said that they require temperatures of at least 18-20C and suggested growing in 30-40cm pots to restrict growth and produce fruit sooner. It has been described as having a fruity taste, with the initial bite being sweet and then immediately turning to “molten lava”. When fully ripe, it is typically about the size of a ping-pong ball.
Wayne Algenio of Jamaica, Queens, broke the world record at the Puckerbutt Pepper Company’s Smokin’ Ed’s Reaper Eating Challenge at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo in Brooklyn on April 24, 2016 by eating 22 Carolina Reapers in 60 seconds.