This Is Why You Should Never Eat A Ghost Pepper

by Lara Rutherford-Morrison

I think most of us would admit that we made bad decisions when we were adolescents. When I was in middle school, that meant trying and failing utterly to make my hair mimic “The Rachel.” But swallowing one of the hottest peppers in the world? While being filmed? That lives in its own special category of “Terrible Idea.” In the video below, a boy swallows a ghost pepper while being filmed in what appears to be a school bathroom. At the beginning of the video, the people filming say that he’s doing the “Ghost Pepper Challenge.” One person says, “He’s not actually going to eat it, but...” And then, of course, the kid promptly swallows it because that’s what you do when you’re 12 and someone says you’re too scared to do something.

The results are predictably horrifying. The boy starts crying and screaming; he’s so upset that he becomes beyond incomprehensible, wailing, “It’s hot! It’s hot! It’s really f*cking hot!”

For those of you thinking, “Chill out, kid. It’s only a pepper,” let’s review the properties of the ghost pepper: Cultivated in northeastern India, the ghost pepper, also known as the “bhut jolokia,” was ranked as the world’s hottest chili pepper by Guinness World Records from 2007 to 2011. The honor went to the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion in 2012, and the scorching Carolina Reaper has held the title since 2013. The ghost pepper may not be the hottest chili in the world anymore, but it’s still incredibly spicy, clocking in at 1,001,304 Scoville units (the Scoville scale evaluates peppers’ heat by measuring their concentrations of capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers hot). To put that in perspective, Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 units on the scale, and the jalapeño ranges from 2,500 to 10,000 units. So the ghost pepper is more than a hundred times hotter than the hottest jalapeño.

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

An NBC News article from 2007, when the ghost pepper was considered the hottest pepper in the world, described the strength of the chili:

The smallest morsels can flavor a sauce so intensely it’s barely edible. Eating a raw sliver causes watering eyes and a runny nose. An entire chili is an all-out assault on the senses, akin to swigging a cocktail of battery acid and glass shards.

The kid in the video appears to only be eating a piece of the pepper, but that’s enough to make this happen:

Lesson: Don’t eat ghost peppers. Also: Don’t be friends with people who will egg you into eating one of these and then laugh as you cry in pain. (Seriously, what kind of friends are these? Get this kid some help, people. Don’t just stand there giggling.)

Images: Getty Images; YouTube (3)