Snot’s dripping. I’m honestly looking for a small dark place.
April 23, 2019 8:32 AM   Subscribe

The main difficulty lies in the fact that the body, which is smarter than the mind, does not want to consume these peppers. Giri Nathan writes on tasting the Carolina Reaper pepper (clocking in at 1,560,000 Scoville heat units) at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo.
posted by Cash4Lead (63 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
There's an eponysterical joke with the post title and my username, but i can't find it yet.
posted by notsnot at 8:42 AM on April 23 [7 favorites]


This is sports.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:44 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


I'm growing a pair (yes, I know) of Carolina Reapers on my windowsill. So far it's just leaves, no fruit yet. We'll see...
posted by chavenet at 9:04 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


I wonder if goats can eat these hot peppers? They like poison ivy.
posted by Ansible at 9:06 AM on April 23


Didn't someone die from one of these stunts? (I'm not thinking of the guy who choked after attempting to eat a quantity of cockroaches to win a snake, although that can't have been much less pleasant to try than a Carolina Reaper, apparently.)
posted by Countess Elena at 9:08 AM on April 23


"A lot of people worry about that [the poops]."
posted by theatro at 9:14 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


I'm amused by the description of Pepper X as 'unfit to eat', considering the gory aftermath of the Reaper contestants.
posted by Lykosidae at 9:17 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


That was a lot of fun. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:24 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


This article is hilarious and the pictures are really great. I love the non-sequiter Chihuahua beauty contest in the middle.
posted by daisystomper at 9:28 AM on April 23 [16 favorites]


I walk away from the counter, not exactly sure toward what, just trying to escape my own neck.

I found this uproariously funny for some reason.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:36 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


Some good writing; my two favorite phrases were "milk splashed forensically near the garbage can" and "before he's permitted the cow's blessing".

Otherwise, though - sheer madness. I mean, I do love spicy food but I have no interest in pushing any pain boundaries. With any pepper hotter than a regular ol' habanero sauce (and that with the heat mellowed by fermentation and processing) any subtle flavors are lost in the burn.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:41 AM on April 23 [7 favorites]


I was curious how hot chilli peppers came to evolve in the first place, since the evolutionary point of any fruit is that it gets eaten by a passing animal and then the seeds get pooped out elsewhere, spreading and fertilizing the seeds. I didn't see why the plant would want to deter animals from eating its fruit.

It turns out that the plant does "want" the fruit to be eaten, but by birds, not mammals.
Birds are better customers because they swallow the fragile seeds whole and disperse their droppings over a wide area, while mammals chew the seeds and don't travel as far.
Birds are almost immune to capsaicin, so loading the fruit up with heat is a great way to discourage (sensible) mammals from eating it.
posted by w0mbat at 9:46 AM on April 23 [46 favorites]


Ow?
posted by MissySedai at 9:53 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


I like spicy food but I'm sure I would die from this.
posted by Bee'sWing at 9:59 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


If it's fun for them, whatever, but I kinda don't see the point of soooooper-hot food?

I mean, why bother with peppers? Why not just use USP capsaicin? And at the end of the day, you know that you're almost but not quite as badass as a small songbird?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 10:00 AM on April 23 [30 favorites]


Metafilter: almost but not quite as badass as a small songbird.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:04 AM on April 23 [29 favorites]


"During my ordeal, an entire dog show—a chihuahua beauty pageant, to be precise—took place on the stage."

Truly a life fully lived.
posted by mhoye at 10:09 AM on April 23 [9 favorites]


It's a constant war between me and my chickens over the peppers (both sweet and hot) in my garden all summer. I try to keep them out of the bed, they find a way in. I cultivate those peppers, waiting for the perfect moment of ripeness, only to find that the chickens have also been waiting patiently but are just an hour ahead of me. Chickens also are attracted to the color red. They're basically hot pepper seeking missiles, and apparently the plants are in on it. I feel very attacked.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:42 AM on April 23 [36 favorites]


I feel very attacked.

Think how the peppers must feel....
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:51 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


soren_lorensen, are you telling me that is NOT how Nashville Hot Chickens are grown?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:01 AM on April 23 [20 favorites]


If it's fun for them, whatever, but I kinda don't see the point of soooooper-hot food?

It's a cheap thrill, it's addictive, and there is a small element of progression and competition. Also it's kind of like a rollercoaster or a scary movie - something that simulates a lizard-brain threat in a safe environment. Also the community is great.

I mean, why bother with peppers? Why not just use USP capsaicin?

Extracts and artificial ingredients feel like cheating. I guess it's the same reason people still breed and ride horses even though a car is cheaper and faster. Or why runners probably frown on someone taking a cab to the end of a marathon and claiming they ran the race.
posted by FakeFreyja at 11:07 AM on April 23 [9 favorites]


Think how the peppers must feel...

"I've heard the screams of the vegetables"
posted by jkaczor at 11:20 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


I've been losing my hair, and I've become aware of a strange thing: when I eat very hot food - including my own spicy cooking - my scalp breaks out in beads of sweat. I don't know if this is a new thing, as I get older and my stomach gets less capable of dealing with hot peppers, or if this is something that's always happened to me, but I didn't know about.

Anyway. After that read, my scalp is sweating.
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:27 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


RedOrGreen, I have a full head of hair and scalp sweating from hot food is definitely a thing for me.
posted by Quindar Beep at 11:44 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


Birds are almost immune to capsaicin,

It's always interesting to have your parrot chow down on dried chilies and then nibble on your ear. That slow dawning feeling of, why is my ear on fire? Oh yeah, that's right.
posted by Splunge at 11:48 AM on April 23 [19 favorites]


MetaFilter: a chihuahua beauty pageant, to be precise
posted by The Bellman at 11:49 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


Ten years ago Astro Zombie posted the classic apocalypse pepper story. It is time to revisit that post.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 11:52 AM on April 23 [20 favorites]


I like spicy food. I’ve never had any spicy food that I would classify as “too painful for consumption” including things served to me by my South Indian in laws who watch the scalp sweat and say “see! It’s too much for an American!” I’ve definitely experienced discomfort that prevented me from going back for seconds. There’s something about this whole thing that provokes my curiosity, like how much could I really take? I certainly don’t want to stand on a stage and prove my toughness consuming weaponized plants, I still like my food to taste like food. But I think it’s the visceral reaction to it that’s appealing and the description — 15 minutes where it gets worse and worse, 5 minutes where you’re maxed out and hallucinating chihuahuas, it’s probably the same risk taking personality that leads people to experiment with drugs.

The antidote is not milk though, it’s rice mixed with yogurt. Half a billion South Indians over thousands of years came up with this.

Once every few months we have to evacuate the house when my mother in law sends some unnamed peppers to us and my wife decides to fry them up in a skillet aerosolizing noxious gases which she is apparently immune to, but literally causes uncontrollable coughing and gasping for air in her husband and children. My wife thinks this is harmless and funny.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:52 AM on April 23 [30 favorites]


@Countess Elena

> thinking of the guy who choked after attempting to eat a quantity of cockroaches to win a snake

w t f ?! Thank you for sending me down a rabbit hole of nightmare news reports for 15 minutes today.
posted by rsanheim at 11:58 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


RedOrGreen, I developed a bald spot in my late 20's and eating spicy food has always made my head bead up with sweat.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:59 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


when I eat very hot food - including my own spicy cooking - my scalp breaks out in beads of sweat.

This happens to me now - but only since I turned 40 or so.

Frankly, I think they should add the peppers to Lutefisk for maximum gastronomical destruction.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:59 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


What do you mean?

They eat the poison.

What? On purpose?

Yes, they eat it, and not only that, the dumb apes have specifically worked to make it more poisonous.

Really?

Yep. They also have poison eating contests and celebrate it and write articles about it?

What, to warn future generations?

Nope, for attention.
posted by iamabot at 12:00 PM on April 23 [8 favorites]


Because I can't resist...

Metafilter: maxed out and hallucinating chihuahuas
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:01 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


Does it not strike the contestant that they may be embarking on the wrong path if they have to munch on a stick of butter pre contest?

I love extreme heat for the endorphin rush. So worth having your teeth sweat.
posted by AugustWest at 12:35 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


I was curious how hot chilli peppers came to evolve in the first place...I didn't see why the plant would want to deter animals from eating its fruit.
"The fact that capsaicin causes pain to mammals seems to be accidental. There’s no evolutionary percentage in preventing animals from eating the peppers, which fall off the plant when ripe. Birds, which also eat fruits, don’t have the same biochemical pain pathway, so they don’t suffer at all from capsaicin. " [source]
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:42 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


Hot Sauce Law: Scoville level of a given hot sauce is directly proportional to the crappiness of the label design.

Hot Sauce Corollary: Any hot sauce over 1,000,000 Scoville will be marketed to speak to the masculine insecurities of men and teenage boys.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:44 PM on April 23 [13 favorites]


The Wikipedia article on capsaicin is full of interesting things I didn't know:
There is also evidence that capsaicin may have evolved as an anti-fungal agent:[36] the fungal pathogen Fusarium, which is known to infect wild chilies and thereby reduce seed viability, is deterred by capsaicin, which thus limits this form of predispersal seed mortality.

In 2006, it was discovered that the venom of a certain tarantula species activates the same pathway of pain as is activated by capsaicin; this was the first demonstrated case of such a shared pathway in both plant and animal anti-mammal defense.[37]
And not only that, certain Euphorbias have evolved a chemical – resiniferatoxin – which activates that same TRPV1 receptor capsaicin does, but has a score of 16 billion Scoville heat units.
posted by jamjam at 1:11 PM on April 23 [9 favorites]


Masochists.
posted by gottabefunky at 1:26 PM on April 23


Half a billion South Indians over thousands of years

I thought South Asia didn't get hot peppers until the 1600s?
posted by saladin at 1:26 PM on April 23 [7 favorites]


I wonder what you happen if you ate a bird that just chowed down on some superhot peppers.
posted by gottabefunky at 1:26 PM on April 23 [3 favorites]


Countess Elena: "Didn't someone die from one of these stunts?"

I can't quite tell. Andrew Lee was suspected of having died related to some hot chili , but I see no follow up about the results. Recurring thunderclap headaches have been reportedly caused by eating super hot peppers. As well, there's at least one case of a man suffering an esophogeal tear after eating hot peppers.

Relating to the death, I'd be interested if anyone could find the final results of Andrew Lee's autopsy/toxicology. However, I suspect this might be related to the reporting of heart attacks during marathons. When one considers the total man hours involved in running a marathon, with statistical rates of heart attacks, the results aren't much different. However I see it reported that 29% of marathoners and half-marathoners survived experiencing cardiac arrest, vs. 8% of the standard population experiencing cardiac arrest. But people dying of heart attacks in marathons gets reported on fairly widely because it seems like a shark attack / man bites dog.
posted by nobeagle at 1:33 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


I don't understand inflicting that on yourself. Knowing the levels upon levels of lingering pain coming, measured out to seven scientific digits of agony, what rational person would get a chihuahua?
posted by pracowity at 1:47 PM on April 23 [25 favorites]


I had to favorite you, pracowity — not because I hate chihuahuas! But because you made me laugh loud enough to startle my own dog.

This was a good article that I didn't want to read. I knew it was going to be about pain and puking and pooping and all for what? Yet it was a great read. I often find this is the case with deadspin, unless I'm just remembering selectively. I always think this is not something I'm going to enjoy reading, and then for some reason it is.
posted by taz at 2:01 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


I was curious how hot chilli peppers came to evolve in the first place...I didn't see why the plant would want to deter animals from eating its fruit.

"The fact that capsaicin causes pain to mammals seems to be accidental. There’s no evolutionary percentage in preventing animals from eating the peppers, which fall off the plant when ripe. Birds, which also eat fruits, don’t have the same biochemical pain pathway, so they don’t suffer at all from capsaicin. "


I don't agree with the pop-science James Gorman article that there is no evolutionary disadvantage to mammals as consumers versus birds.
The reasons for disfavoring mammals as consumers include chewing, dispersal area, and also the more rigourous digestive systems that mammals have. The chilli seed is soft and less able to survive these rigours than some other kind of fruit seeds, e.g. apple pips.

Googling shows me dozens of credible sources tht say chilli plants evolved to make capsaicin because it discourages eating by non-preferred creatures (mammals and also insects and even fungus) without deterring the preferred eaters, birds.

For example this New Scientist piece, this Harvard study, or this piece by an ornithologist on The Straight Dope.
posted by w0mbat at 2:20 PM on April 23 [3 favorites]


pracowity: because you know it will end. Because it's relatively safe. Because it's fun to test one's limits.

Otherwise known as "type two fun" or "type ii fun" (searchable terms). I've eaten small bits of ghost pepper and carolina reaper before. Granted, they were grown in Ontario, so probably not up to snuff. It's definitely more fun doing it with other people, so there's the shared experience. I turn into a giant ball of sweat, and it hurts, and I know there's nothing I can do to immediately stop the hurting... but there's the thrill of the endorphins, and even if I can't stop the pain now, I know it's limited and will likely do no lasting damage. And then when the hurting stops, I can think how nice the lack of pain is. How one feels a bit more alive after. ... With that said, I'll note I haven't eaten an entire pepper of the hot sort. I've found my limits for now.

I'm starting to sweat, salivate and grin now just recollecting the burn.
posted by nobeagle at 2:21 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Heh. This from the comments is as true a thing as I have ever read...
Wear Gloves. Always. Because sooner or later you’re going to have to pee, and you’re going to think all of that capsaicin is off of your hands, and you’re going to be so very, very wrong. You’ve never been as wrong as you are going to be in that moment, and you’re going to know just how wrong you were instantaneously and you’re going to know just how wrong you were for anywhere between half an hour and an hour. But in that moment of wrongness, time will appear to have completely halted.
Note: Half-an-hour-to-an-hour is fantasy. Most of the afternoon is more like it. Or...so I’m told.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:31 PM on April 23 [17 favorites]


me and my friends, calling ourselves the "spice council," about 10 yrs ago went on a heat adventure across many LA restaurants that advertised or were known for their spicy food-- indian, thai, and chinese, mostly. we brought homegrown habaneros and jolokias with us to places because what they were offering was too mild, and would heartily chop up the peppers with spoons and mix them into curries and such. it was a big larf, and we were merry like medieval barbarians, drinking beer and boasting.

one day, we decided to do the jitlada challenge. it is a famous thai restaurant in east hollywood known for its supreme heat. the challenge started with some medium dishes. we were still laughing it up at that point, having fun, even though the leadup dishes were already hotter than anything anyone else had offered up so far.

and then: the main course.

a dark, nearly black curry arrived with, i want to say, mussels?... floating in a thick paste. on the side was a plate of ice chips with carrot slices. we all went into the communal bowl with sort-of bravado. but after about two minutes, everything fell apart. one guy starting laughing uncontrollably, but all of a sudden in a bad, bad way. i started sweating so profusely i couldve wrung out my shirt. another guy just ran out of the building and lay down in the alley outside. we paid and i drove home somehow. it was about as bad as the time i drove after badly spraining my ankle playing basketball. i spent the next several hours in the bathroom.

the spice counsel was permanently adjourned that night.
posted by wibari at 2:43 PM on April 23 [31 favorites]


Wear Gloves. Always. Because sooner or later you’re going to have to pee...

Yep. Or take out your contacts.
posted by Killick at 3:53 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


Once as a kid I intentionally sniffed some black pepper because I wanted to see if it would make me sneeze like in the cartoons. It did, and the experience was quite unpleasant. Any time I work with spicier peppers, and I'm only talking about habanero's/scotch bonnets here, I make sure to wear gloves and put down a layer of aluminum foil on top of the cutting board because I don't want to accidentally get any of the pepper on me or anyone else.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:01 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Note: Half-an-hour-to-an-hour is fantasy. Most of the afternoon is more like it. Or...so I’m told

Yea....gloves. The bushel of habenaros bought at the farm auction and then processed without gloves leaves your hands burning. For 3 days.

Look towards the protocol for handling methyl mercury WRT gloves.

Granted, they were grown in Ontario, so probably not up to snuff.

If they were red, up to snuff. Stress makes the peppers hotter as I understand so the cold might have helped.

Resiniferatoxin

Oh how nice. investigated as a treatment for lifelong premature ejaculation (PE). At least you won't be thinking of baseball.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:06 PM on April 23 [3 favorites]


Midnight Skulker: "Ten years ago Astro Zombie posted the classic apocalypse pepper story. It is time to revisit that post."


Boy am I glad I clicked that link.
posted by Bugbread at 4:44 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


If you are the sort who doesn't use gloves when chopping peppers (not recommended for the extreme peppers here!) what you want to do is wash your hands thoroughly with detergent (dish soap) and cold water, preferably using a brush or dish scrubber. (I rub on the the dish soap before adding the water.) Do not, under any circumstances, use hot water! That will mobilize the oils and drive them into your skin, something you definitely do not want.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:59 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


RedOrGreen, I am a bald dude who “scalp sweats” profusely after eating something as mild as a jalapeño. It’s a reliable source of amusement for family and friends. What can I say, I came late to peppers.

Is this where I can confess my love of Giri Nathan’s tennis writing for Deadspin? Because I love his tennis writing for Deadspin. Representative example here.
posted by cheapskatebay at 5:14 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


This thread has provided a good half hour of laughs and conversation in my family. Thanks for the article and the excellent comments.
posted by lhauser at 7:07 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Wear Gloves. Always. Because sooner or later you’re going to have to pee...

Or change your tampon.
posted by jeather at 8:11 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


Wear Gloves. Always. Because sooner or later you’re going to have to pee...

Flashback to the AskMe that came after I was making pozole and then absent-mindedly scratched just under my nose.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:31 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


I thought South Asia didn't get hot peppers until the 1600s?
Possibly slightly earlier, but definitely somewhere between Columbus's second voyage and the early seventeenth century. In his second-voyage missives back to his funders he specifically mentions ají as a superior crop to black pepper, the crop that in many ways inspired the Portuguese conquest of Goa and was perhaps its biggest cash crop. (Piper nigrum, or black pepper, is an unrelated plant to the capsicums).

So yeah. South Indians don't necessarily have any hereditary ability to tolerate capsicums, and any greater tolerance/enjoyment of spicy food probably has a lot more to do with exposure and custom than anything else. If anyone has any claim to building a hereditary tolerance for capsaicin, it's Central/South American Natives, whose ancestors cultivated chilis for millennia.

Anecdotally I grew up eating really spicy South Indian cooking as well as really spicy southwestern US cooking, and while I've never eaten a Reaper on its own (and wouldn't be interested in doing so, thanks), I always buy a couple from the old lady from WV who brings a handful to the farmer's market when they're in season. They are actually quite flavorful, but adding just one to a batch of salsa is plenty.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:06 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


I grew ghost peppers last year. The tags for the starts came with a warning not to touch even the leaves ungloved.
posted by y2karl at 11:11 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


Once, way back when I ordered Indian food at #8 hot, I had a juicer. One night I decided to make a juice from foods that make you sweat, combining garlic, ginger, wasabi and *drumroll* habaneros into one tiny shot glass of lemon juice. For starts.

I tossed it back with nary a drop hitting my tongue and sat back, thinking to myself 'Well, not so bad...'

Then all of a sudden, my tongue exploded like it had been napalmed, burning sweat poured down my face and, worst of all, my eyelids caught fire. Oh, Jesus, how they burned. And this was before I found out the thing to drink was milk and cream -- not water. Kids, don't try this at home. Consider yourselves warned.
posted by y2karl at 2:19 PM on April 24 [3 favorites]


I suspect that falls under the category of "Things kids probably don't need to be told not to do in the first place".
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:47 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


You might think that, but regrettably I have now a little voice in my head saying "MAYBE Y2KARL WAS SOME OF KIND OF WIMP YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY TRY THAT".
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:35 PM on April 24 [3 favorites]


btdt;

unlikely a second time.

I was joking that my piss was going to burn for a week, but it was more like 6 months. and, no. I am not kidding. My friend Dave grew them, and we had some tiny chunks on thin crust pizza...very good, very hot, he fainted.

Then we had lavender ice cream sandwiches on chocolate chip cookies and great wine.
posted by sfts2 at 7:12 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Myself. Previously.

When I was younger (how many of my comments begin this way?)(too many) I was hanging out with a girlfriend. We were in Greenwich Village in NYC. We both loved spicy food. We were lucky enough to come across a small shop that sold nothing but various hot pepper concoctions.

They had a table with a bunch of open jars, plastic spoons and tortilla chips.

So while chatting with the owner we sampled several of the sauces and enjoyed them all. With the bravado of a couple of young morons, we asked why there wasn't anything "really hot" on the table.

She grinned and said that the really hot stuff (I am not joking) was kept behind the counter.

So she brought out a jar of sauce and warned us to only try a very tiny bit. The friend and I laughed. (This probably sounded like the laugh of a pair of drunks stepping out of a low flying plane over an active volcano, wearing blindfolds)

We both took a chip and dipped it into the jar and scarfed them down.

The next half hour or so are a blur. Some of the screaming was probably mine. No doubt the higher pitched ones.

I got some relief by pounding my head against the walls. The girlfriend got some relief by pounding on me.

I do not know the name of the evil that we consumed that day. But this does not matter. The night was supposed to be spent in lascivious revelry.

Instead it was spent fighting each other for access to the bathroom and howling. We loved each other so much.

Breakfast was milk. Ice cream. And yogurt. There was no oral sex for several days.

Don't ask.

posted by Splunge at 4:43 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


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