World’s hottest chilli pepper goes on sale in Ireland

The Carolina Reaper measures 1.5m Scoville units – 400 times hotter than the jalapeno

The hottest commercially produced chili in the world, the Komodo Dragon, is now for sale in Ireland. Conor Pope decided to take a bite to see how hot it really is.

 

Moruga Scorpion, Komodo Dragon, Carolina Reaper... there’s a theme running through the names of these foods, so it’s perhaps no surprise that eating them can lead to a range of symptoms from a runny nose to seizures, heart attack and even death.

Yes, it’s competitive chilli time again, with the hottest variety in the world going on sale in Tesco Ireland branches this week, and the Big Grill Fest in Herbert Park, Dublin 4 (August 11th-14th)  inviting competitors to prove their mettle in hot chilli and spicy wings eating competitions.

The Carolina Reaper is the hottest chilli in the world, according to Guinness World Records, a title previously held by the Moruga Scorpion, and you can buy packs of two or three of the fiery fruits for €1.49 in 50 Tesco stores around the country.

They, and the Komodo Dragon variety introduced last year and brought back “due to popular demand” according to supermarket chain, are part of a super-hot chilli pepper range that is proving surprisingly popular with Irish consumers, with sales expected to reach 5,000 during the season.

They are grown in Bedfordshire by the UK’s largest producer of chilli peppers, Salvatore Genovese.

To put their heat potential in context, the Carolina Reaper, which measures an average 1.5 million Scoville units (the universal heat measurement scale for chillies), is an estimated 400 times hotter than the jalapeno. The Komodo Dragon isn’t far behind with its 1.4 million Scoville heat rating. The chillies will be sold in the supermarkets with a blue flash label warning of their potency – just in case.

“The Carolina Reaper’s fiery fusion combined with fruity taste is a sensation like no other. This chilli is only for those who can really handle the heat; only the smallest slice is needed to add an explosion of flavour to any meal,” says Tesco Ireland fresh food buyer Joe Casey.

Unless you’re out to prove something, it might be best to heed Casey “smallest slice” suggestion, or use a whole, unchopped one in a curry and remove it before serving.

Though that approach won’t get you in the record books. Last April Wayne Algenio of Jamaica, Queens, ate a staggering 22 Carolina Reapers in 60 seconds to set a new world record at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo in Brooklyn. “You eat as many as you can in a minute and then after that you have to stand there for another minute without vomiting or drinking any liquids. After I stopped, I could feel the burn in my throat,” said Algenio, who soothed his pain with milk, lots of it.

At least his after effects were confined to a sore throat – two people were taken to hospital after a ‘world’s hottest chilli competition’ at an Edinburgh curry house in 2011, and reports said that many of the contestants dropped out “after witnessing the first 10 diners vomiting, collapsing, sweating and panting”.

Let’s hope there’s nothing as unseemly in the genteel surrounds of Herbert Park next month, where, according to the Big Grill Fest, the hot chilli and spicy wings eating contests are a popular part of the programme and attract about 20 or so hardy souls to take part in a “last man or woman standing” showdown.

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