Megan Orr // Opinions Editor
I don’t know if anyone would ever describe me as a picky eater, but I do, however, have a sensitive stomach. I generally try to be quite mindful about what I put into my body, which makes the following decision kind of a weird one: I ate a red hot chili pepper… Just to see what would happen.
When I was deciding what to try this week there were a lot of different things I was throwing around. I was pretty sure I wanted to eat something. But not just something. Something weird/interesting/gross, and for some reason, I awoke at 6:45 in the morning with my mind stuck on trying something spicy. I love the YouTube series Hot Ones, where celebrities are interviewed while eating increasingly spicy chicken wings. I like to think that one day when I’m famous, I’ll be able to down all ten wings no problem.
I landed on red chili peppers at about 3:00 in the afternoon, mostly just because they were at the store I went to and when I asked the clerk if they were the hottest between them and the poblano or jalapenos, he assured me that they “definitely” were. According to a quick search, these red hots fall somewhere from about 20,000-50,000 Scovilles (the measurement used to determine how spicy a food is based on the capsaicin levels). For reference, the Carolina Reaper, which is known to be the world’s hottest pepper, falls somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 Scovilles. So, really this was a mild, hot pepper I was preparing myself to eat.
I started by first eating a couple of Tums, hoping to line my mouth, esophagus and stomach with some sort of protective film. I had water on hand and milk at the ready. I set out some ground rules for my boyfriend, Kiel. The whole pepper had to be eaten, tip to the base of the stem and we’d have to chew them, not just swallow. We cheersed (to our health) and then bit into them. I chewed diligently on both sides, alarmed by how immediately awful this was.
First of all, I felt like my pepper was ultra-seedy, and that’s where they say the heat comes from. I started to cough, not knowing if I was going to be able to even swallow it, not even sure if I wanted to have this in my body at all. As soon as I did, my ears started to burn and my mouth began to profusely salivate.
I leaned over the kitchen sink allowing the saliva to pour out of my mouth like molten lava. My eyes darted to Kiel beside me, who looked to be struggling even more. From my blurry line of vision I could see that he was still chewing and he kept violently hiccuping. Both of our eyes were watering, we were crying. He was judging me for drooling into the sink and I was confused about his aggressive hiccups.
My nose was running and I started to panic. I didn’t want to feel like this anymore. Literally, probably only 30 seconds had passed, but it was already too much. My tongue, mouth, lips and ears were all burning, my heart was racing and I was generously sweating. Even though I hadn’t drunk milk in years, I poured myself a glass and drank eagerly. The relief was instant but fleeting. As soon as I swallowed the last of it the burning returned. I grabbed ice cubes and sucked on them – they melted all too quickly. This was at about 4:30 pm.
By about 5 pm the effects had finally started to wear off. My mouth and lips had stopped hurting but I pretty quickly developed heartburn. During our after-dinner walk at 7:00 pm, my stomach started to grumble. Being a person with a sensitive stomach I tried to brush it off and ignore it, but it could not be ignored.
At 8:35 pm it began. I am trying to figure out a way to put this that isn’t incredibly crude. Do you know about the ring of fire? I don’t mean the Johnny Cash song or the area of volcanic activity in the Pacific Ocean. If you know you know. The following morning most of the issues I was experiencing had disappeared, other than a slight feeling of unease in my gut.
I think my dreams of ever surviving on Hot Ones have gone up in flames since it really can’t be emphasized enough that this was a fairly mild pepper. You might be wondering why I even did this only to cause myself such discomfort. The answer: I did this for you, readers. You’re welcome.