Pepper X crowned hottest in the world – here are the four others

Chilli comes from the same farmer whose Carolina Reaper was, until now, top of the crops

Pepper X is the hottest pepper in the world, according to Guinness Book of World Records. AP
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The world has a new spicy pepper – and it's more than 50 per cent hotter than the previous record holder.

Pepper X was crowned by the Guinness Book of World Records earlier this month, beating the Carolina Reaper. Both are crossbreds by Ed Currie, a farmer who also runs hot sauce company PuckerButt.

The spice level of peppers is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). While a regular jalapeno pepper registers about 5,000 units, the Pepper X steams ahead with 2.7 million units.

The Carolina Reaper, certified in 2013, comes in at 1.6 million units. By comparison, the pepper spray used by the police is about 1.6 million, while bear spray is measured at about 2.2 million.

Currie told the Associated Press that Pepper X was a result of his decade-long research to find the perfect pepper that he says provides “immediate, brutal heat”.

He is one of only five people to eat an entire Pepper X.

“I was feeling the heat for three and a half hours. Then the cramps came,” he said. “Those cramps are horrible. I was laid out flat on a marble wall for approximately an hour in the rain, groaning in pain.”

Currie's long obsession with peppers is featured in the Netflix documentary We Are the Champions, which explores quirky and oddly inspirational competitions. The film centres on an annual Pepper Eating Challenge hosted by Currie, who is popularly known on social media as Smokin’ Ed.

With a new winner crowned, here are the world's top five hottest peppers.

1. Pepper X: 2.69 million Scoville Heat Units

A greenish-yellow variety with an earthy flavour, Pepper X is a crossbreed of the Carolina Reaper and another “brutally hot” pepper that inventor Currie is not revealing. Pepper X was certified as the world's hottest by the Guinness Book of World Records on October 9.

2. Carolina Reaper: 1.64 million SHU

Certified by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2013 and also created by Currie, this bright red creation has a distinctive scorpion-like tail. Currie, who allowed people to grow the peppers without protecting his intellectual property, says he has learnt an important lesson and will not repeat the same with Pepper X. He told Associated Press his lawyers have counted more than 10,000 products that use the Carolina Reaper name without permission.

3. Trinidad Scorpion 'Butch T' pepper: 1.46 million SHU

Derived from the Trinidad Moruga scorpion (see below) and crossbred by American farmers, the Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” pepper held its title for about three years, before being toppled by the Carolina Reaper. The pepper is called “scorpion” because of its pointed tail.

4. Naga Viper pepper: 1.38 million SHU

Recorded as the world's hottest chilli by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011, this is a hybrid of the Naga Morich, the Bhut jolokia and the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.

It was created in England by farmer Gerald Fowler.

5. Trinidad Moruga scorpion: 1.2 million SHU

Certified by the New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute as the hottest pepper in the world in 2012, this little bulb is native to the village of Moruga in Trinidad and Tobago, hence its name.

It is known to have a fruit-like flavour, which gives it a sweet-hot taste for those who can stand the heat.

Special mention – Bhut jolokia or Ghost pepper: 1 million SHU

The certification of Bhut jolokia as the world's hottest pepper by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2007 essentially kick-started a global race to grow the world's hottest peppers.

A native of North East India, Bhut jolokia is also popularly known as “king chilli”. So pungent is its taste that scientists at India's Defence Research and Development Organisation announced plans to use the peppers in hand grenades to control rioters or in self-defence.

Updated: October 18, 2023, 7:13 AM