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Ghost Pepper
April 10, 2009 7:32 PM   Subscribe

Take the world's hottest peppers, rub them in your eyes and then eat 51 of them in world record attempt. Mere mortals blanch at one or two (language in this last link unsurprisingly NSFW).
posted by caddis (42 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Andrew Lee, 33, from Edlington, West Yorkshire, challenged his girlfriend's brother to a contest to see who could eat the spiciest sauce that he could create.

Mr Lee prepared a tomato sauce made with red chillies grown on his father's allotment. But after eating it he suffered intense discomfort and itching. The following morning he was found dead, possibly after having a heart attack.


This is a dare that I can easily see my friends and I doing, which makes this story that much more disturbing. The guy must have had some preexisting physical infirmity; I can't believe a pepper could do this to you.

On the other hand, the sheer amount of peppers this woman ate, not to mention the whole rubbing them in her eyes bit, was oddly unsurprising. I feel like it would have been more spectacular if she had demonstrated even a tiny bit of discomfort in eating them. I can imagine the non-Indian audience gasping until about the 15th pepper, when they finally got a little bored.
posted by Dia Nomou Nomo Apethanon at 7:51 PM on April 10, 2009


I once got a blowjob from a chick right after she'd eaten some really hot peppers. Searing, brutal pain. For hours. Cold bath didn't help shit.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:11 PM on April 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'll bet that growing up with it helps with the tolerance, but eating one probably overloads your system enough that more doesn't really make it appreciably worse. Making a sauce and cooking it would likely make it worse, though, given that cooking things usually brings out the spice even more - probably from breaking down cell walls of the pepper. Yikes in any case.

That's beer the guy in the second video is drinking? Ugh. Beer, for me, makes things much, much worse.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:12 PM on April 10, 2009


I once got a blowjob from a chick right after she'd eaten some really hot peppers. Searing, brutal pain. For hours. Cold bath didn't help shit.

You need a base to counteract the acid. Should've bathed in milk.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:14 PM on April 10, 2009


I feel like it would have been more spectacular if she had demonstrated even a tiny bit of discomfort in eating them

I expect that's key to this. For example, down here in Mexico there's this guy who eats peppers and squeezes the juice into his eyes. He says it isn't even remotely uncomfortable. Link. Something's just different about him.
posted by donpedro at 8:17 PM on April 10, 2009


Should've bathed in milk.

Chick was vegan. She'd have none of it.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:24 PM on April 10, 2009


Tonight at the DC meetup, we shared a few shots of habanero-infused aquavit. Damn, that was spicy, spicy stuff.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:30 PM on April 10, 2009


Not the article I was expecting to be the first with a headline that ends with "Gordon Ramsay watches in horror".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:34 PM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I once got a blowjob from a chick right after she'd eaten some really hot peppers. Searing, brutal pain. For hours. Cold bath didn't help shit.

You should see the other guy!
posted by Dia Nomou Nomo Apethanon at 8:41 PM on April 10, 2009


badum-pssssh!


Actually you needed to wash your wee-wee in some acetone. Not milk. Milk helps not at all. I once was cleaning hot peppers in preparation for making salsa and my gloves broke. I didn't notice it for a few minutes until I started seeing blood spots inside the gloves. Seems the skin between my fingers is VERY sensitive to capsaicin.
posted by Severian at 8:51 PM on April 10, 2009


I was at a party once where some mischievous asshole, probably unhappy with being appointed a designated driver and unloved by his mother, waited until the level of drunkenness reached it's crescendo to launch a devilish ploy. This mischievous asshole harvested a few habaneros from a potted pepper plant growing on the back patio then cut open the fruits to rub random objects in the household with the habanero's inner membrane. He wiped the the handles of the refrigerator, the rims of drinking glasses, the filters of cigarettes, and the toilet seats with burning capsaicinoid mischief.

It wasn't long before he saw the reactions of his earliest victims -- the red faces, the puffy lips, the swollen eyes, and the uncomfortable burning crotches; all rubbing, blinking, scratching, and irritated. It was less than 20 minutes before one victim caught on and sounded the alarm, "Somebody wiped peppers on my cigarettes!" Knowing the cause of their discomfort, everybody's suffering crystallized into a defensive reaction: there was a mad rush on the pepper plant in the corner of the patio where everyone grabbed a pepper of their own to be used as a form of hot pepper vengeance. Everyone tried to act normal and continues to party as they plotted their misguided revenge; "Fred's an asshole, I know he put that on my drink, so I'm gonna rub this all over his keys", "I bet it was Kenny's whacked out girlfriend, let's rub this shit on his cellphone," "Fuck Kevin, he did this to us. Can you squeeze the pepper into his cigarettes?"

Matters only got worse, soon everyone was suffering from friendly-fire or self-inflicted habanero hate in one form or another. But there was one person enjoying it all, that mischievous asshole who started it all. He knew well enough not to touch his fingers to his face or his crotch. He wasn't drinking and knew that there weren't any safe glasses in the house anyway. He knew to use his elbows to open doors and flush toilets. He had a pretty good time at this party.

Yeah, that mischievous asshole was me. I've seen the drunken, non-consensual habanero version of the "two" link. It's good stuff, I'm somewhat ashamed to admit.
posted by peeedro at 8:58 PM on April 10, 2009 [33 favorites]


Milk is actually slightly acidic. It is the fats that solubilize the capsaicin because it is not soluble in water.
posted by sararah at 9:03 PM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sour cream is what I find cuts the heat.
posted by caddis at 9:15 PM on April 10, 2009


Anybody in Austin, (or possibly at your local hot sauce purveyor), should go to the Tears of Joy shop on East 6th, between Red River and 35.

Ask to try "The Source". They keep it behind the counter, and only handle it with gloves. You get to taste the end of a tooth pick, dabbed in a tiny drop. You'll be in pain for hours. Samples are free-- $100 a bottle. They also have a stronger version.

Aside from any possible abnormal biochemistry this woman has, I'd imagine The Source is similar.
posted by fontophilic at 9:25 PM on April 10, 2009


MetaFilter: You should wash your penis in {water, milk, acetone, sour cream}.
posted by shadytrees at 9:27 PM on April 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


Slightly related, from the Hot Sauce Blog: Cooking with pure capsaicin (Scoville scale: 16 million)

Blair warned me of the heat level of this item many times. He talked about having put a small speck, a piece about the size of a salt crystal, on his tongue and apparently his tongue was wounded for a few days afterward. So when I managed to get ahold of a bottle before anyone else, I knew I had to try it out for myself. I made sure to have plenty of protective gloves on hand before even handling the container and I also made sure to take out my contacts and put my glasses on. Don’t want to lose an eye to this stuff
posted by Rhaomi at 9:58 PM on April 10, 2009


If I knew it was going to be that kind of a party, I would have put my dick in the habanero sauce!
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:09 PM on April 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


They keep it behind the counter, and only handle it with gloves.
Every hot sauce store has this--I bet you have to sign a release form to get it, right?
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:18 PM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, that's nothing. I once ate something called the apocalypse pepper. It grows in very small amounts in the Amazon basin, and the natives who live in the region have no word for it in their language. They just use their word for death. Every so often, a member of their tribe will brush against it by accident in the forest and burst into flames.

When this happens, the unfortunate tribesman's ashes are mixed into a paste and then ceremonially eaten. Obviously, this is the only way you can eat the apocalypse pepper. The iepper itself has never been tested, but the ashes of someone who has touched them come in at a whopping 30 million Scoville units. It's extraordinarily rare to be invited to participate in the apocalypse pepper ceremony. To the best of my knowledge, only non-natives have ever done so. The first was Sir Robert Blythe-Green in 1909; he left a handwritten account of the ceremony the day he took his own life. There is Margaret Whitechapel, who, of course, when mad from the experience. And there is me.

I was in the Amazon in the late 80s doing some ethnopharmacological work. I had become friendly with a small and unusually prankish tribe, and they had already given me a number of plants to eat, just to see how I would react. They found my reaction to the Panther Flower particularly amusing, although I am not sure the ferry pilot I mauled appreciated the humor. And so, when a teenage boy accidentally touched an apocalypse flower and exploded, they decided to ask me to join the ceremony.

The tribespeople set aside three days for the ceremony, and hide anything sharp or anything that might be used as a weapon. The actual eating of the ashes takes only a few minutes, and is done with surprisingly little ceremony. I suppose none is really needed. When you're about to eat the ashes of someone who has died from the apocalypse flower, any introductory ceremony is just busy work.

I watched three or four of the tribesmen eat the paste before they passed it on to me. I don't know what I was expecting, but I knew it wasn't going to be like anything I had ever experienced before. The man who passed me the paste was grinning, but his eyes were stained red from blood vessels inside them bursting. This doesn't happen to everybody. I don't know if it happened to me.

I've had peppers before. I ate a bhut jolokia chili years ago, when I was in India, and it was about the hottest thing I had ever had up until that point. I was really afraid I might die from it, and my tongue felt scorched for days afterward.

Well, the apocalypse pepper is so far beyond that your brain is not even capable of registering it as pain. Instead, you simply assume you have gone mad. There is a very distinct sense that you may actually have lost your mouth, you nose, and throat; one imagines oneself rather grotesquely, as a humanlike thing who has had these body parts torn away. Balance is generally impossible, but the experience is so enormous that you can't stop moving. The natives call it the crawling trance, because tribesman have been found as far as seven miles away, having squirmed the entire distance while under the spell of the apocalypse pepper. Some, of course, try to kill themselves, which is why anything that might be use as a weapon is hidden. Some succeed anyway, by drowning themselves or throwing themselves off cliffs. It doesn't happen every time, but it happens enough that you take precautions, and be ready for the possibility that someone might be dead at the end of the experience.

There is a lot of hallucinating. A lot. And the hallucinations are beyond nightmarish. The natives like to say "There is no wisdom in the pepper," and they're right. Some hallucinogens will give the user the distinct feeling that they have journeyed, and learned something. What you see on the apocalypse pepper you wish you didn't, and try to forget, and never speak of. I won't describe my hallucinations. I am not sure I can. They have an extra-dimensional quality that defies language, as though the edges of the world were just so much putrid, rotting flesh, and there is something outside it chewing its way in. That's about the best I can describe the experience, and I'd rather not think about it anymore.

I cried for a full year after I ate the apocalypse pepper. I don't mean that my eyes watered. I mean that I regularly burst into long fits of anguished weeping. Weirdly, this behavior seemed like it was just a reflex to me. I wasn't actually feeling some psychic torment, and I watched myself sobbing with embarrassed curiosity. It could happen anytime, and there seemed to be no reason for it. It could have been worse, though. A percentage of those who eat the pepper lose their sense of smell. Some lose their ability to see. There's nothing physically wrong with them, mind you -- their eyes work, and their optic nerve is fine. It's as though the pepper simply burned away their ability to register what they saw.

And, of course, some, like Margaret Whitechapel, never regain their sanity. I don't know what her madness was like. If it was the gibbering horror of my hallucinations, I don't know how she could stand it, although I understand she was frequently restrained. They say when she died, she was unable to speak or make any noise, as she had screamed so much and so loudly that she had destroyed her vocal chords.

It's marked me. I feel like I just walk through the world, unconcerned about anything, like a living ghost. A few years ago my doctors were worried I might have a cancerous tumor on my neck, and had me tested. It proved to be benign and they removed it. Afterward, one of the doctors, a kind man named Erhardt, confessed to me he had never seen anybody like me. He said that I barely seemed to register the new when he first told me of the possibility of cancer, and that I behaved toward the tests and the surgery with the same vague disinterest of someone waiting for a bus. And it was true. The whole thing barely registered to me. It was more like a dull chore to me than a potentially life-threatening diagnosis. My whole life is like that.

The worst part is, I want to go back to the Amazon and to eat the ash of the pepper dead again. It's the last time I remember really feeling anything. I suppose that's why the Amazonians keep doing it, whenever somebody in their tribe accidentally touches the plant. They're gentle people with a good sense of humor, but I suspect, like me, their lives are mostly seen as being the lull between when they last had the pepper and when they will have it again.

I might go back to the Amazon next year, but the truth is, I am a little afraid to do so. I have started to wonder if anybody really ever does accidentally brush against the apocalypse pepper. It's not like it is a plant that you might not notice, because it might be found buried in a mass of other local flora. No, the apocalypse pepper grows on its own in a patch of scorched earth, and nothing living can be found within a 20 foot circle of the plant. Additionally, the air around it seems to shimmer, like the air above an oven or a volcano.

I have been thinking about that pepper a lot. Because if eating the ashes of someone who has touched it is so powerful, what must the experience of touching it be like?

When the Amazon tribesmen say that there is no wisdom in the pepper, maybe they aren't talking about the experience of eating the ash. Maybe it is a warning against touching the plant itself. Maybe they are warning that it is just death, which is, after all, their word for the plant. Maybe there is no experience at all. You're a living person one moment, and the next, upon touching the pepper, you are ash, and there was no experience between the first state of being and the second.

I can't help but wonder, though. And that's why I fear going back to the Amazon. Because, in the ghostly half-world I live in, where every experience comes to me like a muffled sound, and where I respond to it all with a shrug, thinking about touching the flower is something different, and something I crave.

It's exciting.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:21 PM on April 10, 2009 [347 favorites]


And mouth watering!
posted by peeedro at 11:26 PM on April 10, 2009


(● ) (● )
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 11:29 PM on April 10, 2009


I just can't eat chillis like I done useta could. My old belly just ain't no count. I get the shits every time doncha know.
posted by turgid dahlia at 11:40 PM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Horchata works for me. Hibiscus tea too if it has ginger. Got that in Panama.

This I'd never do though, and I ran a marathon two hours after my vasectomy.
Pretty much because...y'know the old joke with the monkey sticking the grapes up his ass? (ever since he ate that damn cue ball he measures everything first). The peppers going in don't bother me.
...going in.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:59 PM on April 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I once got a blowjob from a chick right after she'd eaten some really hot peppers. Searing, brutal pain. For hours. Cold bath didn't help shit.

You need a base to counteract the acid. Should've bathed in milk.


You have our sympathy. But really, shouldn't this one have taken care of itself? Semen is slightly alkaline.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 12:13 AM on April 11, 2009


"It's warm"
posted by telstar at 1:16 AM on April 11, 2009


I once got a blowjob from a chick right after she'd eaten some really hot peppers. Searing, brutal pain. For hours. Cold bath didn't help shit.

I've always been told that eating bread is the best way to counteract the effect of hot peppers, but I'm not sure how this would apply in a case such as yours - wrap it in a twelve-grain? Seems a bit less than helpful, though potentially very funny.
posted by metagnathous at 2:58 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: You should wash your penis in {water, milk, acetone, sour cream}.

I just usually wash it in Metafilter when things get too hot.
posted by mannequito at 3:06 AM on April 11, 2009


I knew I had to try it out for myself. I made sure to have plenty of protective gloves on hand before even handling the container and I also made sure to take out my contacts and put my glasses on.

I can kinda see this... As a fan of spicy foods, I once bought a bottle of Da Bomb. I really like spicy foods, and I use this very sparingly.

My friends and girlfriend refuse to even touch the bottle due to a few bad experiences rummaging through the refrigerator and brushing the side of the cap with their fingers. Apparently there had been enough of a residue (It's a thick sauce, so some sticks to the sides/top of the bottle.) on their hands to cause irritation after they rubbed their eyes, nose, or lips. I laughed until that time I thoughtlessly put my contacts in after dicing habanero peppers...

Great way to keep friends from causually going through your refrigerator though.
posted by Avelwood at 3:24 AM on April 11, 2009


Mmmm...Guatemalan Indian insanity pepper.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:31 AM on April 11, 2009


A dear friend assures me that touching your wife's clitoris after chopping serrano peppers is a bad idea. Ya think?
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:58 AM on April 11, 2009


MetaFilter: You should wash your penis.

FTFY.
posted by bwg at 5:16 AM on April 11, 2009


I once got a blowjob from a chick right after she'd eaten some really hot peppers. Searing, brutal pain. For hours. Cold bath didn't help shit.

There was an AskMe about this.

Couldn't you do some sort of lasting damage by rubbing your eyes with hot peppers? Can't it irritate your eyes to the point of burning them (well not literally burning, but kind of like acid?).
posted by bluefly at 7:43 AM on April 11, 2009


Is the video in the last link a viral ad by Icehouse? The length of time he holds his beer carefully in-frame and so that the entire name shows would indicate that this may be a clever viral campaign that has a'slipped by unnoticed.

Someone who's sleuth-like should figure this out.
posted by nosila at 8:11 AM on April 11, 2009


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/12/AR2008071200141.html

http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2009/01/13/make-money-on-your-youtube-videos-with-product-placement?icid=sphere_blogsmith_inpage_bloggingstocks
posted by now i'm piste at 8:55 AM on April 11, 2009


Someone who's sleuth-like should figure this out.

Not sure about the viral angle, but YouTube is apparently awash in videos of people eating ghost peppers. I spent 20 minutes watching one after the other.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:58 AM on April 11, 2009


I did too. They're utterly fascinating.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:22 AM on April 11, 2009


Here's a photo of me and two friends having a friendly contest early last year. We cut an internet-procured Bhut Jolokia in three pieces, each took one, chewed it, and waited to see who would give up and swallow first. Note the melancholy expressions.

WARNING: May be a viral ad for Cumberland Farms store-brand sodapop.
posted by drumcorpse at 12:23 PM on April 11, 2009


One day, after cooking with jalapeños, if felt the need to scratch that itch that one often feels when one is between relationships. Not being entirely stupid, I had washed my hands thoroughly, twice, but not thoroughly enough; the barest hint of the jalapeños' oils had stayed on my hands.

The sensation was... interesting. Not painful, per se, but nearly overwhelming.
posted by lekvar at 12:49 PM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've got some 'Dragon's Blood' Dorset naga chilli sauce in my fridge. It's rather nice - very hot, but with a decent smoky flavour too, it's not a novelty sauce. About a quarter of a teaspoon of it is more than enough to have with a meal. I couldn't eat it if Gordon Ramsay was staring at me though.

Eating 51 raw naga peppers is just superhuman.
posted by BinaryApe at 12:59 PM on April 11, 2009


I ♨ Astro Zombie
posted by lalochezia at 4:56 PM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


When you're about to eat the ashes of someone who has died from the apocalypse flower, any introductory ceremony is just busy work.

Uncontainable laughter with tears while at work Easter Sunday and the phone rings. Caller ID suggests I need to find a way to sober up and take this call.

Jesus wept.
posted by will wait 4 tanjents at 12:09 PM on April 12, 2009


Guatemalan Insanity Pepper

Hibbert: By all medical logic, steam should be shooting out of that man's ears.
Krusty: His ears if we're lucky.
posted by DU at 5:01 AM on April 13, 2009


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