Last week, we taste-tested an advance batch of the Chilli Factory's most hellish concoction yet: the dubiously named 'Reaper Paste'. The main ingredient is Carolina Reaper chillies — AKA the hottest pepper in the known universe. This is the story of eight men who sampled it and the hospitalisation that nearly ensued.
The Carolina Reaper is a hybrid chili pepper of the Capsicum chinense species that is grown in the same US state as its namesake. It currently holds the Guinness World Record as the hottest chili pepper known to man with a heat rating of up to 2.2 million Scoville units. To put that number into perspective, habanero chillies have a typical Scoville rating of 150,000 — which makes the Carolina Reaper nearly 15 times hotter.
The Carolina Reaper is described as having a fruity, sweet taste with a hint of cinnamon and chocolate undertones. However, without serious dilution the only flavour most people will experience is gum-searing pain.
The Australian-owned Chilli Factory is in the process of testing a new chilli paste that consists of an eye-watering 80 per cent Carolina Reapers, plus some vinegar for preservation and taste. Against our better judgement, we requested a batch of this vegetable-based lava fresh off the factory floor.
As the previous Guinness World Record holder for its Trinidad Scorpion strain, the company knows a thing or two about bottling extreme heat. The Reaper Paste is their most fiery offering to date — even hotter than Scorpion Strike BBQ sauce. It's essentially supercharged holy water that turns you into a gibbering demon and then kills you.
To give customers an idea of what they're in for, the Chilli Factory has slapped the Reaper Paste with a heat rating of '15+' out of ten. In other words, you'd have to be crazy to use this stuff as a dip... which is exactly what we went and did. Go hard, or stick to ketchup!
Here's the video:
The above footage doesn't give any indication of the horror that would later unfold. The paste tasted like fire going down and took ages to dissipate, but all in all it was pretty tolerable. This all changed around forty minutes later.
Here's a sampling of reactions from those who lived to tell the tale:
Mark Serrels, Kotaku editor (the Scotsman): The minute I put this godawful substance in my mouth I knew it was hot. Like instantly. Sometimes these chilli things take a while to get going, but this one was really, really hot from the outset, and then somehow found a way to get hotter. At one point I was just sitting there trying to meditate through the pain. About an hour later, I felt an agonising churn at the base of my gut. I rushed to toilet by pure instinct and stood for like 30 seconds in front of that porcelain beast contemplating which end to point at it. One way or another, I was sure, that chilli was coming back out. I was terrified of throwing something that hot back out through all those internal tubes, so I managed to hold it down. But seriously — that stuff is hardcore. Easily the hottest thing I've ever consumed.
Rob Hussey, Allure Media developer (the eerily calm bloke on the left): The chili burn in the mouth was as expected, hot, but tolerable, whilst also maintaining some actual chili flavour rather than just the pure burn like from some of the other super-hot chili sauces/oils. After around 30 mins, things started to get a little unexpected, with the chili mouth burn long passed, I suddenly started getting an intense burn within the chest, which I presume were the stomach acids getting a little lively and causing some heart-burn. It was a little concerning for a few minutes as it just kept intensifying like my stomach acids were going into a meltdown, but after 10-15 minutes it all calmed down again. For a genuine hot but tasty sauce, I’d recommend.
Chris Jager, Lifehacker journalist (me): Despite being Allure Media's chief chilli aficionado, I think I copped it worse than anybody. Around 40 minutes after the Reaper Paste taste test, I headed out of the office to grab some lunch at the local markets, assuming that the worst was behind me. The worst hadn't even started. I barely made it up the road before a crippling stomach cramp set in. This was accompanied by a dizzying wave of nausea that literally floored me where I stood. The next ten minutes were spent writhing on Circular Quay boardwalk in a groaning, sweaty hell of my own making. At one point I even undid my pants in a fruitless bid to ease the agony. To the passersby giving me a wide berth, I must have looked like a psychotic in the midst of a drug-fueled mania — which wasn't too far from the truth. Eventually, I managed to will my limbs into motion and slowly hobbled back to the office while simultaneously holding my pants up. One shaky step at a time, I engaged in a Herculean journey across 50 metres of horizontal footpath. There were frequent stops. At one point, the pain was so excruciating that I seriously considered calling an ambulance. I eventually made it to the cafe outside our building, requested a water and promptly sank back into the dirt. Two of the waitresses ended up carrying me to a chair where I received a pity serve of chamomile tea. I was physically unable to leave my seat for about half an hour and continued feeling dizzy for the rest of the day. Best. Chilli. Ever.
The Chilli Factory Reaper Paste will make its official debut at Sydney's Royal Easter Show from 10 April 2014.