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“Ring Of Fire” by Frank Wagner

Eating The Hottest Pepper In The World Taught Me A Valuable Lesson

The Stuff Of Legends

You’ve probably seen a few people on Youtube taking a shot at the world’s hottest pepper, the Carolina Reaper.

They seem fine for the first 30 seconds of chewing, only to be in a state of torture during the 9 minutes that follow.

The process includes coughing, crying, getting high and even vomitting.

So I can already guess what you’re probably thinking right now.

Why the hell would you do it then?

Two reasons:

  • I love spicy food
  • I love doing crazy shit from time to time.

Now, for those who are not familiar with this pepper, I’ll explain to you just how hot it is.

Every pepper has an active component called ‘capsaicin’. This a state of inflammation and irritation that produces thermal heat inside the body.
There exists a ‘scale of Scoville’ that measures how hot a pepper is.

The jalapeno pepper has around 3500 points on the Scoville scale. The reaper is 600 times stronger than that.

Yes, you read that right.

This pepper is so strong that you have to wear gloves when you’re holding it.


Prologue

My friends and I were doing voluntary work at a Scottish themed festival.

After a long day of cutting tickets and inviting hundreds of people, we decided to spend our hard earned coupons on rousing spirits and rich foods while listening to the fine compositions of Folklore music.

After a few drinks we — like any healthy, male relationship — started going after each other. All in good fun of course.

Then, some fool (me) had to take it a step too far by challenging the other friend to eat the hottest pepper in the world together.

He accepted. History was written.

Scottish Weekend

It was troublesome to find a store that sold these peppers because they aren’t as popular in the small country called ‘Belgium’ as they are in the US.
I had to expand my search to The Netherlands to find them.

One day, I stumbled upon an online store that had these reapers in stock. So I ordered them right away and they arrived at my place two days later.

So here I was sitting at my dinner table, accompanied by the world’s hottest peppers. And boy did they look the part.

The Carolina Reapers, or the droplets of the devil

Judgment Day

Two brave men had set upon a glorious quest.
They were determined to slay the dragon. 
They wanted to become legendary.

It was on a chilly November evening that we were sitting at a pick-nick table in the park. I revealed the two peppers we were about to sacrifice our sanity for.

There were 5 of us. My buddy and I, and 3 spectators. You can’t do something crazy like this without a few witnesses, right?

There was one simple rule:

  • We weren’t allowed to decrease the discomfort with water or food for the duration of 10 minutes after having swallowed the pepper.

We looked at each other testily, waiting for one of us to talk some sense.

It didn’t happen.

So we said “cheers” and inserted the peppers in our loud mouths.

We could immediately sense that this was unlike anything we ever tried before. To be honest, the hotness itself was bearable. It was the side effects that gave us the most discomfort.

After 2 minutes of moaning and groaning, our heads started becoming light. This is probably the feeling of being high that other people previously talked about. We experienced it more like dizziness.

My eyes became watery and I felt some kind of pressure in my ears. You can compare it to the kind of pressure you feel at high altitude. There was a tingling sensation in my fingers, as if I was touching a low voltage of electricity.

All of a sudden, the stomach started resisting. The next 5 minutes consisted of dry heaving and perpetual cramps. This was the point I thought something was going wrong because my friend seemed to be doing better than I was.

There were still 3 minutes left to go, so to chicken out wasn’t an option.

I couldn’t stay on my feet anymore. The cramps in my stomach were so bad that I had to sit down. I was counting the seconds until I could eat the ice cream we brought with us.

3…2…1…

It was finally over. Give me that damn ice cream! The alleviation of the coldness was unbelievable, even though everything tasted weird and terrible.

After some time, my friend felt normal again. I, on the other hand, was still being tormented by cramps that kept getting worse by the minute.

My friends had to bring me home because I wasn’t able to ride on the bike I came with.

I went straight to bed when I came home. The whole night was filled with toilet visits and ongoing cramps. “That’s what you get, champ”, I thought.

The next day, my friend called to tell me about his own visit to the toilet.
It was far from pleasant, and he endured something he called “a ring of fire”.

Oddly enough, that made me happy.


The Valuable Lesson I’ve Learned

As terrible as it was, I don’t regret doing it one bit.

It became a great story.

I experienced pure discomfort, yet I felt great in some unexpected way. My train of thoughts was mixture between “What the hell am I doing?” and “F*ck it. I’m in it now. I’ve come this far. Now I’m gonna get through this.

That’s the mindset I want to be in as much as possible.

Accepting how crazy something seems, daring myself to do it, and enjoying the glorious feeling that comes after. You realize you can do it, you do it.
You did it.

It doesn’t matter how you feel before doing it. What matters is how you feel after. This goes all of the daunting things in life.

If you want to be legendary, you have to do legendary things.
You will never regret having done them.
Instead, you would regret if you didn’t.