Meet Pepper X: Guinness World Records’ New Hottest Pepper

“I was laid out flat on a marble wall for approximately an hour in the rain, groaning in pain.”
The devil's creme puff.
The devil's creme puff. / Jack, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Move over, Carolina Reaper—there’s a new hottest pepper in town.

As Popular Science reports, Guinness World Records recently crowned Pepper X as the hottest pepper in the world, boasting an average of 2,693,000 Scoville heat units (SHU). That’s more than a million units above the Carolina Reaper’s average of about 1,640,000 SHU. A jalapeño, for reference, usually has somewhere between 3000 and 8000 SHU.

A more apt comparison is pepper spray, which gets its stinging heat from the same chemical compound found in chili peppers: capsaicin. Most pepper sprays average around 1 million SHU, while bear spray—a kind of hyper-pungent pepper spray meant to deter, well, bears—clocks upwards of 3 million SHU. 

The Reaper, which has held the hottest pepper record since 2013, walked so its successor could run. Pepper X, created by PuckerButt Pepper Company founder Smokin’ Ed Currie, is a crossbreed of the Reaper and another pepper that Currie is choosing to keep secret. The Reaper itself is a Currie original, too.

It took Currie about 10 years to perfect Pepper X, but all that exposure hasn’t made him immune to the side effects of ingesting the pepper. “I was feeling the heat for three and a half hours. Then the cramps came,” he told the Associated Press. “Those cramps are horrible. I was laid out flat on a marble wall for approximately an hour in the rain, groaning in pain.”

Still, perhaps a small price to pay for a shiny new Guinness World Record, which was presented to Currie after he unveiled the little green wonder on an episode of Sean Evans’s Hot Ones. As for its name, Pepper X was initially a placeholder while the lawyers tackled all the trademark filings for the real name. But they weren’t finished by the time hot sauce manufacturer HEATONIST needed to print labels for Pepper X products, so Pepper X became permanent.

You can watch the whole segment (taste test included) above.