It’s official: Carolina Reaper of Rock Hill is world’s hottest chilli

dworthington@heraldonline.comNovember 26, 2013 

Ed Currie holds a basket of his peppers in 2012, now named the world’s hottest.

FILE, THE HERALD — File, The Herald

Ed Currie of Rock Hill was at the Southern Christmas Show, trying to sell more of his PuckerButt Pepper Co. products when he checked his smart phone for emails.

Among the unread messages was one from the Guinness Book of Records. Currie has been trying to get his “Carolina Reaper” recognized as the world’s hottest chilli.

“I saw the email and thought, ‘What else have I done wrong?” Currie said Tuesday of his more than two-year quest for recognition.

Currie opened the email, dropped to his knees and began crying. People asked if he was sick or it was bad news.

To the contrary, the news was that Currie was “officially amazing.” His Carolina Reaper has been recognized as the world’s hottest chili.

“That’s how I sign my emails now, ‘officially amazing,’” Currie said.

The Guinness Book of World Records named Currie’s “Carolina Reaper” the world hottest chili, beating out the former record holder, the Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T.”

Currie’s “Carolina Reaper” delivers, on average, 1,569,300 Scoville heat units. The Scoville scale measures spiciness based on the concentration of the chemical compound called capsaicinoids. In comparison, Jalapeno peppers have a Scoville rating ranging from 2,500 to 8,000.

Students at Winthrop University under the direction of chemistry professor Clint Calloway tested Currie’s peppers and provided the scientific data to Guinness that showed Currie was not only able to replicate his Carolina Reapers but that they deliver consistent Scoville ratings.

Calloway said the Guinness recognition is particularly nice for the students who worked on the project. He said it also shows that Winthrop has the “tech savvy” to do state-of-the-art chemical analysis for firms such as Currie’s.

The Guinness website mentions Winthrop’s work in securing the world record.

Currie grows his peppers on a family farm. This past year he harvested 15 million pepper ponds producing about 1 million pounds of peppers.

As a result of the official recognition, Currie said people who “ignored my requests over the last three to four years now magically want to talk to me.”

Currie said he hopes the world recognition not only helps him sells more PuckerButt Pepper Co. product, but also helps him in his efforts to research the medicinal value of peppers. Currie’s research company is one of several firms recently accepted into Rock Hill’s Technology Incubator.

To develop the world’s hottest pepper, Currie asked friends worldwide to send him local peppers and soil samples. He reasoned that the local soils influenced the taste of the peppers.

People sent him more than 1,000 peppers and Currie “stumbled onto genetics that everyone had overlooked.”

The quest started on the back porch of this home near Cherry Park.

The “Carolina Reaper” was initially called HP22B, which stood for “Higher Power, pot number 22, plant B.”

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066

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