Is locally grown “Carolina Reaper” the world’s hottest pepper?

dworthington@heraldonline.comAugust 27, 2012 

Local pepper sauce entrepreneur Ed Currie should soon know whether his “Carolina Reaper” is the world’s hottest production pepper.

Lab reports and other data will soon be on their way to the Guinness Book of World Records.

The Chile Pepper Institute at the University of New Mexico State recently proclaimed the Trinidad Maruga Scorpion as the world’s hottest pepper with a Scovile heat rating of 1.2 million

Currie’s “Carolina Reaper,” in lab tests at Winthrop University, has on average hit 1.474 million on the Scovile scale, Currie said.

“These are weapon-quality peppers,” Currie said.

Currie, a Charlotte banker who started growing peppers as a hobby, admits there may be an occasional pepper or two that’s hotter than his “Carolina Reaper.” But he has tested the “Carolina Reaper” for more than five years and has been getting consistent results.

The testing has been done on small batches of the pepper which are grown in hot houses and fields in York County. The peppers are ground and mixed together to get an average reading, he said.

Currie estimated he has tested more than 50 pounds of the peppers, which were originally were called HP22B for Higher Power, pot 22, plant B.

Under the PuckerButt Pepper brand Currie sells a variety of hot sauces and seeds. He recently opened a store on Main Street in Fort Mill, but does most of his business via the Internet.

He also recently hired an organic co-packer to make his sauces. The co-packer gets pepper mash from Currie and follow Currie’s recipes to make sauces such as Voodoo Prince Death Mambo, Patrick Morgan’s KaBoom and Edible Lava.

“What started as a hobby is now a business,” he said.

Currie said he has asked Guinness to expedite his world-record request. He said he has paid the firm about $4,000 to seek the record.

Interest in buying the “Carolina Reaper” seeds has skyrocketed since the Guinness record attempt was announced on the PuckerButt Pepper website. He said has he gotten more than 1,000 emails inquiring about the peppers. The “Carolina Reaper” pepper seeds sell for $9.99 a pack.

Currie advised those who purchase the “Carolina Reaper” seeds that the pepper should “only be used in cooking and used sparsely.”

He said he’s been eating the peppers since he first grew the variety eight years ago and “their still hot.”

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