The Man Behind The World's Hottest Pepper

According to a mastermind breeder of the Carolina Reaper, this pepper is actually not that hot.


When Byline announced that its July issue's theme would be "Heatwave," I knew there was only one person I’d like to get on the phone: "Smokin’" Ed Currie, the mastermind breeder of the Carolina Reaper, a gnarly red cultivar that the Guinness World Records deemed the world’s hottest pepper in 2017. Far exceeding the humble Jalapeno, the try-hard Tabasco and the has-been Habanero on the Scoville Scale (a measurement recording the pungency of chilis), the Carolina Reaper has been the subject of numerous clickbait YouTube challenges, at least one NPR-documented ER visit, and even a spicy longform New Yorker piece, which gleefully quotes the writer Steven Leckart’s description of eating the Reaper as "like being face-fucked by Satan."


But don’t write Currie off as a vindictive stunt-botanist – the 60-year old Michigan native is also a recovering addict, a loving father and husband, and the CEO of PuckerButt Pepper Company, the largest organic pepper farm in the United States (and the provider of many of the hottest late round sauces featured on the popular wing-centric web series Hot Ones).

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