Carolina Reaper

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Carolina Reaper
Carolina Reaper pepper pods.jpg
Species Capsicum chinense
Hybrid parentage Bhut jolokia × red habanero
Breeder Ed Currie
Origin Rock Hill, South Carolina, US
Heat Exceptionally hot
Scoville scale 1,569,300 on average SHU

The Carolina Reaper, originally named the HP22B,[1] is a cultivar of the Capsicum chinense plant. The pepper is red and gnarled, with a small pointed tail. In 2013, Guinness World Records declared it the hottest chili pepper in the world, surpassing the previous record holder, the Trinidad Scorpion "Butch T".[2]


The sensory heat or pungency detected when consuming a Carolina Reaper derives from the density of capsaicinoids, particularly capsaicin, which relates directly to intensity of chili pepper heat and Scoville scale.[3] Bred in a Rock Hill, South Carolina greenhouse by "Smokin" Ed Currie, proprietor of the PuckerButt Pepper Company in Fort Mill, the Carolina Reaper was certified as the world's hottest chili pepper by the Guinness World Records since August 7, 2013.[4][5] The official Guinness World Record heat level was 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) in 2013, according to tests conducted by Winthrop University in South Carolina. The figure is an average for the tested batch; the hottest individual pepper was measured at 2.2 million SHU.[4][5][6]

The original crossbreed was between a Bhut jolokia (a former world record holder) and a red habanero, and is named 'Reaper' due to the shape of its tail.[7][8]

For growing, the pepper has been described as "a good all-rounder to try at home" by UK ethnobotanist James Wong, who said that they require temperatures of at least 18–20 °C (64–68 °F) and suggested growing in 30–40 cm (12–16 in) pots to restrict growth and produce fruit sooner.[9] It has been described as having a fruity taste, with the initial bite being sweet and then immediately turning to "molten lava".[7][10] When fully ripe, two peppers occupy the palm of the hand.[10]

In May 2017, Mike Smith of St Asaph working with Nottingham Trent University claimed to have surpassed the Carolina Reaper with his Dragon's Breath pepper, reported to be 2.4 million SHUs, and applied to Guinness World Records for confirmation.[11] As of September 2017, the hottest chili pepper known was Pepper X, having a reported Scoville scale of 3.18 million units.[12]


In April 2018, a case report of "thunderclap headaches" in a 34 year old man – who was hospitalized a few days after consuming one Carolina Reaper pepper of unspecified size in a contest – included a presumptive diagnosis of reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS).[13][14] With no reason to believe pepper compounds had a role in the mechanism of RCVS, other clinical interpretations, such as a stress response from eating such a hot pepper, may explain the headaches.[15]



  1. ^ "About Us". PuckerButt Pepper Co. Smokin’ Ed gained the pepper industry’s attention in November 2011 when an NPR Reporter stopped by to eat an HP22B pepper–now known as Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper®. 
  2. ^ "Confirmed: Smokin Ed's Carolina Reaper sets new record for hottest chilli". Guinness world records. 2013-11-19. Retrieved 2016-09-14. 
  3. ^ Nagy, Z; Daood, H; Ambrózy, Z; Helyes, L (2015). "Determination of Polyphenols, Capsaicinoids, and Vitamin C in New Hybrids of Chili Peppers". Journal of Analytical Methods in Chemistry. 2015: 102125. doi:10.1155/2015/102125. PMC 4606152Freely accessible. PMID 26495153. 
  4. ^ a b "Hottest chili". Guinness World Records. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Hallock, Betty (December 26, 2013). "World's hottest pepper hits 2.2 million Scoville heat units". Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ Collins, Jeffrey (December 26, 2013). "World's hottest pepper is grown in South Carolina". Associated Press. Archived from the original on July 1, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Tu, Chau. "Eating the 'Carolina Reaper' pepper is 'like eating molten lava'". pri. 
  8. ^ Duffy, Jim (Habanero). "Carolina Reaper". Super hot chiles. Ed created this chile plant variety by crossing a Ghost pepper (Bhut Jolokia) with a Red Habanero type from St Vincents Island in the West Indies. 
  9. ^ Wong, James (February 28, 2016). "Gardens: the hottest chilli ever grown". The Guardian. Retrieved February 26, 2016. 
  10. ^ a b Smithers, Rebecca (16 July 2016). "UK shoppers to feel the heat as world's strongest chilli hits the high street". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2018. 
  11. ^ "'World's hottest' chilli pepper grown in St Asaph". BBC News. 17 May 2017. Retrieved 18 May 2017. 
  12. ^ Elizabeth Licata (23 September 2017). "Pepper X is the new hottest pepper in the world". The Daily Meal. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 December 2017. 
  13. ^ Garisto, Dan (May 17, 2018). "Owww! World's hottest chili leads to days of severe headaches". Science News for Students. Retrieved May 24, 2018. 
  14. ^ Boddhula, Satish Kumar; Boddhula, Sowmya; Gunasekaran, Kulothungan; Bischof, Edward (2018). "An unusual cause of thunderclap headache after eating the hottest pepper in the world – "The Carolina Reaper"". BMJ Case Reports: bcr–2017–224085. doi:10.1136/bcr-2017-224085. 
  15. ^ Tim Carman (12 April 2018). "Can a chile pepper really cause an 'incapacitating' headache?". Food. The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 May 2018. The authors may have been too quick to pin the blame on the Carolina Reaper. Other experts in the field of neurology and headache research say that there’s no clear evidence that capsaicin, the active ingredient in chile peppers, causes a narrowing of arteries. Nor does RCVS always lead straight to thunderclap headaches, which cause “incapacitating” pain