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Taco Bell releases new menu items with South Carolina heat

Fort Mill’s PuckerButt owner hoping to go from fame to fortune

Ed Currie, owner of PuckerButt Pepper Company in Fort Mill, crossbred a pepper from the St. Vincent island in the Caribbean ocean with one from India to produce the Carolina Reaper, officially the world's hottest chili pepper according to the Guin
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Ed Currie, owner of PuckerButt Pepper Company in Fort Mill, crossbred a pepper from the St. Vincent island in the Caribbean ocean with one from India to produce the Carolina Reaper, officially the world's hottest chili pepper according to the Guin

The next time you’re in a Taco Bell you can taste some heat from South Carolina.

The popular Tex-Mex fast food chain released two new dishes that incorporate a notorious South Carolina grown flavor.

The Steak Reaper Ranch Fries and its burrito counterpart had their national release Thursday. Both concoctions are imbued with the heat of the Rock Hill grown Carolina Reaper pepper, which took the crown for the world’s spiciest pepper in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2013.

According to Taco Bell’s website, their “extremely official scientific spice research team hunted far and wide for the hottest pepper we could find, which made for a lot of burned tongues and landed us in sunny Rock Hill, South Carolina. That’s where we stocked up on gallons and gallons of water and went to sample the famed Carolina Reaper Pepper — a Ghost Pepper (and) Habanero hybrid that clocks in at scorching speeds.”

The Carolina Reaper pepper is blended with ranch dressing so it won’t “burn your mouth house down” and doused on the fries. The potato-based medley is a new take on Taco Bell’s popular Nacho Fries.

The Steak Reaper Ranch Fries Burrito is the same dish as the open face fries but stuffed in a tortilla for someone who is a “meticulous muncher” and “want(s) to keep their hands/shirt/lap clean,” the restaurant’s site says.

Taco Bell first released Carolina Reaper infused fries in August 2018, according to Eater, testing the dish in Cincinnati.

The Carolina Reaper Pepper was hybridized by York County’s “Smokin” Ed Currie, owner of PuckerButt Pepper Company. The world’s spiciest pepper was a cross between a La Soufriere pepper from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and a Naga pepper from Pakistan, The State reported in 2016.

In terms of the spice-measuring Scoville heat scale, the Reaper reaches 1.5 million on the scale. Jalapenos score between 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units. The world’s previous hottest chili pepper, the Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T,” reaches 1 million to 1.4 million.

The Steak Reaper Ranch Fries and burrito are available for a limited time at participating locations, according to Taco Bell’s website.

The Columbia and Lexington areas have about 12 Taco Bell restaurants.

David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.
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