Earlier this month, 40 middle-school students in Ohio were treated by medics for a variety of symptoms including a burning sensation in their mouths, blotchy skin, hives, watery eyes, sweating, vomiting and general discomfort, Dayton Daily News reported. All 40 students had ingested Carolina Reaper peppers, considered the world's hottest peppers, at lunch. By evening, all the students had recovered, but the incident showed what can happen when you ingest the peppers.
The students were doing what thousands of others have done for the Carolina Reaper Challenge: Participants eat a pepper, videotape their reaction and put it on YouTube. The painful challenge has been around for a while, but it has experienced a resurgence in interest since the video below went viral. (And be warned, the video is painful to watch too! This does not look like a fun way to spend an afternoon.)
If you watched the video through, you'll see that the girl on the left, who presumably has asthma, suffered an attack and had to use both her inhaler and oxygen to recover.
The Carolina Reaper pepper has an average Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) of 1.5 million and can go up as high as 2.2 million. It was bred for heat, a cross between a Pakastani Naga and a red Habanero, according to Crazy Hot Seeds.
The girls in the video above eventually recovered, as did the 40 middle-school students. Does that mean this challenge is temporarily painful but ultimately safe?
There don't seem to be any reports of long-term damage done by the Carolina Reaper, but eating extremely hot peppers can bring on a seizure, according to Huffington Post. The seizures can be caused by dehydration due to extreme sweating, and there's a report of one child dying from a seizure after eating chili powder.
Knowing the risks of taking the Carolina Reaper Challenge, would you attempt to eat the world's hottest pepper?
Before you make up your mind, you might want to watch one more video, this one from a kid who describes the sensations he had after he fully recovered. (Apparently, the burn isn't isolated to your mouth ...)