From Seed to World Record: Smokin' Ed Currie and the Carolina Reaper Chile Pepper
The quest for the world’s hottest chile pepper has turned into a virtual arms race, with high demands from a feverous “chilehead” fan base, and the associated bragging rights continually on the line.
Currently the Carolina Reaper holds the Guinness World Record for “hottest chile,” and stands atop the pepper pedestal. Although Carolina Reaper creator “Smokin’” Ed Currie enjoys the bragging rights that come with this honor, his foundation for the Reaper comes from a very humble and idealist beginnings.
After multiple run-ins with cancer both personally and through family, Currie began research into “ultra-hot chile peppers,“ the sub-capsianoids they produce, and their medicinal effects on cancer. Although the medical community has yet to fully endorse capsaicin or sub-capsianoids as possible cures for cancer, they have begun to see the overwhelming benefits of them in the battle against cancer.
Not being one for half-measures, Currie’s journey for the hottest chile pepper he could breed began.
In order to accomplish his goal, Currie began crossing the seeds of two different “parent” plants into a “hybrid.” These hybrids are then grown in repetitive test trails, with only the best plants making the cut, only to get bred again. After 472 different hybrid variations and eight generations of seeds, Currie was able to grow something similar to the current incarnation of the Carolina Reaper.
In 2013, Currie and his Carolina Reaper officially reached his goal when Guinness World Records bestowed him the honor of “world’s hottest chile,” with a Scoville Unit rating of 1.5 million Scoville Heat Units, 300 times hotter than a jalapeno. Currie was able to perfect his award-winning pepper with a blend of a St. Vincent Habanero and a Pakistani Naga.
As a result, Currie’s company, Puckerbutt Pepper Company is seeing exponential growth; and peppers aren’t the only things Currie is actively improving upon. On his 210-acre farm, you can find: hot tomatoes, spicy eggplants, nightshade, watermelons, and over 200 varieties of spices. Currie hopes to expand the farm an additional 90 acres, so they can begin hosting orchards for fruit.
But peppers do continue to take most of his focus, with over 1,100 varieties of peppers equaling an estimated 951,00 pepper plants. Currie refers to the Carolina Reaper as “one of his many babies.”
Currie fought through the lows of personal illness, family tragedy, and struggles with addiction; as well as the highs of a Guinness Record, children, and an expanding business. Currie’s philosophy through it all: “When life gives you road blocks, a smart man will go around rather than jump over, that way you are forced to expand your life in other areas.”