The Carolina Reaper

I ate a Carolina Reaper pepper yesterday. Raw. It was, without a doubt, one of the dumbest decisions I’ve ever made and I did it out of love for one of my best friends.

My pal Jesse loves hot sauces and has introduced me to some genuinely tasty ones that I keep stocked in my home. He’s also had me sample some that are face-meltingly harsh, one of which was The Last Dab by Hot Ones, the infamously hot sauce made with one of the hottest peppers in the world. Its heat was out of my league but I also found it rather tasty despite the intense spice.

So when Jesse revealed to us that he’d acquired several Carolina Reaper peppers, the hottest recorded pepper, I thought I could handle it. I assumed the experience would be akin to The Last Dab, which is made with a pepper that’s actually hotter, and I’d already endured that! He also wanted to share the experience with one of his friends. I wasn’t really eager to do it, but I knew it would mean a lot to one of my dearest friends, so I agreed.

I can say with one thousand percent certainty that it was the most unpleasant experience I’ve ever had with food.

As soon as I swallowed it my throat and ears were set ablaze with pain. I could neither swallow nor breathe without feeling an intense burning. Bread, beer, and (non-dairy) milk, all proven comforts to intense spice, were all rejected by my body. My chest and my stomach were rolling and boiling with searing heat and nausea. I vomited once. I fell to my knees and physically couldn’t straighten my body. I was in such pain that, for a few moments, I couldn’t imagine a way out of it.

Jesse likened his equally painful ordeal to an out-of-body experience. Mine was the opposite. Mine was a trapped-in-my-body experience. I felt like I was trapped in a burning building with no way out, only the burning building was me. It was pure pain and misery.

As of this writing, almost eight hours after I ate the pepper, my stomach is still uneasy. I’m glad I was able to do something that meant a lot to a close friend, but neither of us were prepared for the sheer torture our bodies experienced.

If you’ve seen videos of people chomping down on these peppers and ever thought to yourself that maybe your reaction could be something worth recording for a laugh, don’t do it. There was nothing even remotely amusing about this. Even our wives, who were recording us thinking they were going to have a chuckle, quickly ceased recording once they realized we were both in genuine pain and needed their help.

The things I do for love, even the platonic kind.