Game of Peppers: How the Reaper Took Over the Scorpion’s Throne

Far away and long ago in a kingdom called South Carolina, “Smokin” Ed Currie cultivated the world’s hottest pepper, which would become known as the tongue trippin’ evil-looking Carolina Reaper.

But prior to this royal overthrow, The Scorpion Pepper was the reigning hot king from 2011-2013.

Why such a short reign?

Well since the age of competitive chile pepper growing, plant growers from all over the world are vying for the title of “World’s Hottest Pepper”. Thanks to the Guinness Book of World Records and the New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute for supporting this heated challenge where Scoville units are gold in capturing the treasured title. With so many growers wanting to capture the spicy throne, it’s no wonder a pepper’s reign will only last for a few years.

From professional growers with money and research to back up their claims to small growers without any evidence to support the heat of their plant - people from all over want to claim their peppers are the hottest because with that brings money and fame.

So in walks Ed Currie, an unassuming grower (mostly grew peppers for cancer research), who was trying to grow the world’s sweetest pepper for cancer patients who lose their sense to taste sweet foods. A happy accident led to the Carolina Reaper measuring in at over 2 million Scoville units. This was a jump from the former king, The Scorpion Pepper which clocked in at just under 1.5 million SHU.

The Carolina Reaper will not only scare your taste buds, but its visual attributes are quite frightening as well. It’s the only pepper that has a “stinger”, a tiny tail at the end that curls up like it’s getting ready to kill you. When ready for picking, it is a bold, radiant red that instantly attracts attention like a DANGER sign.

Currie’s family has a history of cancer and uses his gift of growing peppers to help the greater good like donating his pepper pods to cancer research centers after learning that societies that have the lowest rates of cancer are those who incorporate chili peppers at every meal.

How long will the Carolina Reaper keep on the coveted pepper throne?

Only time and Scoville units will tell. Back in 2007, the Ghost Pepper was the undisputed king then the Butch T took reign in 2011. After this overthrow, the kingdom had gone to three different pepper kings in more than a year. That’s competition!


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