How This Guy Made the World's Hottest Peppers | Obsessed | WIRED

your hands will start shaking your heart

will start going faster you get sweaty

your eyes water you your skin flushes

the mucous membranes run and so you get

snot pouring out your nose

edy curry is the evil genius who brought

the world the Carolina Reaper the

world's hottest hot pepper a Carolina

Reaper is a beautiful fruit that is

hiding a package of evil inside and it's

the hottest pepper in the world I get to

hurt people from all over the world

every single day I might have a little

sadistic streak to me the aptly named

curry has been hyper focused on one

thing since 1981 hot peppers more

specifically he is obsessed with

crossbreeding different peppers to make

them as hot as possible by upping their

level of capsaicin the ingredient that

gives hot peppers their heat and a

Carolina Reaper is an absolute capsaicin


I made the Carolina Reaper by breeding a

pepper I got from a doctor from Pakistan

with a pepper I got from a co-worker at

the bank from the island of Saint

Vincent I was just trying to raise caps

enjoyed levels in the Nagas that I got

from Pakistan to see if I could get one

of the sub caps you know it's to go

higher and we got the Carolina Reaper it

was a gift from God in 2013 Cruz

favorite pepper was officially crowned

the spiciest in the world by the

Guinness Book of World Records

but how spicy is that everybody knows

what a howl opinion is they run between

three and five thousand Scoville heat

units Thai chilies maybe 20,000 Scoville

habaneros on average maybe a hundred

thousand then you get into ghost peppers

they're really about 600,000 and then

you got the Carolina Reaper coming in at

one point six four two million Scoville

heat units on average with a peak heat

of 2.5 million Scoville units we're

talking rollerskates

to Space Shuttle you know now remember

that peppers are organic things with

lots of variation including spice and

size for example jalapenos tend to range

from 3,000 to 8,000 or more

Koval heat units and are generally twice

as big as a reaper

which themselves range from 1.5 million

to 2.5 million and he is a subjective

thing but still let's try to put it all

in perspective roughly 10 spicy

habaneros hold the same amount of

capsaicin as one reaper you'd need about

sixty Serrano's to match a Carolina

Reaper and it takes 600 jalapenos give

or take a couple hundred to match the

amount of capsaicin in one mild

equivalently sized Carolina Reaper

Carolina Reaper does not do the same

thing to me anymore because my body is

used to it so I need something hotter

curry has bread almost 500 distinct

pepper plants constantly trying to push

the level of heat one pepper can hold

and he's not finished yeah we're we're

still breeding peppers that are hotter

and hotter and hotter I used to think

that about 4.3 million was the hottest

you can get a pepper I've already proven

myself wrong and science has now proven

that we can get a lot hotter than man

while the Carolina Reaper still holds

the Guinness world record curry says his

pepper axe is even hotter it's the main

ingredient in this fiery hot sauce the

hottest in the hit YouTube series hot



to create new super hot peppers curry

uses a pretty straightforward

crossbreeding technique interbreeding

two different pepper plants hoping to

combine attractive traits into a brand

new plant it's the same method human use

to turn a gray wolf into the Chihuahua

the Bulldog and even the poodle except

plants need a little more help it's a

50/50 crapshoot

but we look for a really nice flower and

we use these paintbrushes to go around

the flower and pull the pollen out and

then when you have enough of the pollen

you go to the female and you paint that

power on to the flowers and then you do

this process over and over and over

again it takes patience to create a new

breed a lot of patience plants in the

first generation tend to carry a lot of

their parents traits breeders can start

to tease out specific traits in the

subsequent generations through selective

breeding it generally takes about eight

to ten generations to stabilize a

hybridization and get predictable traits

and consistent fruit if we get desirable

traits like high indices of any of the

caps e Nuits who are looking for them

will keep on going on the cross if it

doesn't work then we got to start all

over again

and it's a very time-consuming very long

process curry grew up gardening so this

level of botanical knowledge is second

nature to him my mother was a Master

Gardener and she taught me how to breed

plants and irises lilies you know

different things up in Michigan so

that's where I literally got that and I

took it to the dope level I started

trying to crossbreed pot when I was

younger and it was dangerous so he

decided to grow something else and land

it on super hot peppers like the

Carolina Reaper I was on a search for

hotter things that I could get and this

was a Vietnamese restaurant that

specialized in spicy food and I asked

them to make it

the hottest they could and they said no

no and I said yeah yeah yeah and when I

eat it I got a rush I got I literally

got a rush like I was taking some dope

curry has been sober for over 20 years

now but he says that a natural high has

kept him going producing and eating

hotter and hotter peppers when I first

ate the reaper it knocked me to my knees

I was like 3 years clean I hadn't felt

that feeling in a long time I knew that

was hot you get this like euphoric

feeling and that's your body trying to

overtake the pain that the chemical

reaction is giving and eventually the

endorphin rush overtakes the pain and

when you get into the higher pain you

get the more pleasure so it's just

chasing the dragon as crazed tolerance

grew and grew his pepper growing hobby

ballooned into a full-on

all-encompassing lifestyle when I met my

wife she wouldn't have anything to do

with me she called me a funny little man

when I asked for a number she said not a

chance in hell you know but I heard she

liked salsa and I was growing tomatoes

and peppers and stuff so I whipped up

some peach mango salsa and she talked to

me we got married 9 months later so I

put like 1,400 plants in her backyard

and we were making hot sauce and salsa

with with what we weren't using you know

inbreeding and that's also won her over

she convinced him to start selling his

sauces instead of giving them away

so he started pucker but pepper company

and in 2012 he quit his high paying job

in banking to dive headfirst into spicy

peppers approximately 4:00 a.m. every

morning I start sorting through those

peppers to sort for grade to sort for

color and I separate them into the mash

peppers the seedings peppers the ones I

want to eat and the ones were going to

dry curry grows peppers he makes hot


he makes salsa he makes mash and mustard

he drives the whole fruit and makes beef

jerky he even saves the seeds last count

I think there was 3,800 seeds in my

office different types and we've cut

more stash all over the plate I think

we're around seven thousand seeds

different types of seeds some of those

are going to be for sale to the public

some of them will never be to sale for

to the public some go to the medical

community and some are just because I'm

an addict and I can't stop you know I

can't stop collecting them but capsaicin

is a strong strong irritant to our skin

eyes and lungs and there's so much of it

in reapers that caution is needed while

handling them when people are seeding

they wear double gloves because the oil

inside the peppers will actually eat

through nitrile gloves but that's not

because they're protecting their hands

my hands are on fire all the time that's

because they're protecting the soft pots

of their body they take their gloves off

before they go to the bathroom see where

I was touching those peppers earlier is

on fire right now the air is actually

spicy for more than 100 years peppers

have been measured using the Scoville

scale it was started by Wilbur Scoville

in 1912 originally the level of spice

was determined by five individual taste

testers but today the level of heat is

measured in a lab and so curry knows

exactly how dangerous his peppers are it

was subjective then now it's analytical

everybody uses the same process

no one's tastes are involved if you put

my wife and had her eat a reaper she

would tell you it's 10 million Scoville

if you have me did I'll say it's a

hundred thousand you know that's

subjective the machine doesn't lie it

measures everything the same way curry

works with a local chemist to find out

exactly how much capsaicin is packed

into his peppers we grind those peppers

and emulsify them and then we pump them

through a machine called an HPLC a

high-performance liquid chromatograph

and that measures the different

properties that are in a pepper you can

go for the tannins cap see noise

flavonoids coloring agents what whatever

you want to do we analyzed all of it

there's a very specific math equation

that you put the area of the peaks in to

be come up with the Scoville heat units

all this obsession with heat might seem

crazy but it couldn't come at a better


America's appetite for spice is getting

bigger and bigger every year

the u.s. hot sauce industry saw a 150

percent growth from 2000 to

14 with steady increases since then

today it's 1.5 billion dollar industry

in the United States I believe it's

costly changing demographic of America

they brought with them food that we

never had before

I mean when I was growing up there were

no Thai restaurants there were no

African restaurants Caribbean

restaurants Indian restaurants but as

the demographic of America change they

brought in their food cultures and we

got exposed to that and then there's the

internet where people post painful

videos of themselves eating peppers

constantly hot sauce is now a mainstream

thing people are always doing some crazy

stunt with it this didn't happen 10

years ago for those of you out there

that want to eat a whole Carolina Reaper

I highly recommend that you do not do it

despite these warnings business is good

and curry gets to spend most of his days

surrounded by what he loves the most I

get out of bed at 3:30 in the morning

just to go and play with peppers and I

stay there all day long on fire eating

them all day long this is my happy place