Rexburg locals will be putting their taste buds to the test in this year's 3rd annual "Carolina Reaper Eating."
"We're just a bunch of people who like spicy foods, especially...the taste and burn of spicy peppers," Fred Eaton, founder of the Carolina Reaper Eating, told BYU-Idaho Radio.
Eaton says the event originally started as a casual family activity but has since expanded to include anyone who wants to pit themselves against the world's hottest pepper: the Carolina Reaper.
"Grown by the suitably named Ed Currie from the PuckerButt Pepper Company, Smokin Ed's Carolina Reaper delivers an average of 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units (SHU)," according to Guinness World Records. "His record-breaking Carolina Reaper has been ten years in the making, having meticulously worked on stabilizing and testing the pepper, which is a crossing between Sweet Habanero and Naga Viper chilies."
A simple search on the internet will reveal dozens of videos showing people trying their hand at the pepper's heat, always accompanied by a medical warning and "do not try this at home." Still, Eaton says while he's not a medical professional, he always approaches his reaper eating with caution and research, saying to not come to the event unprepared.
"I made this mistake the first year and a couple of my friends made the mistake the second year, of coming to the event," Eaton said. "Just coming off an illness and not having eaten very much, don't do that, you'll end up with some bad times. I do like to advocate a certain preparation, we advocate eating a large bready meal the night before, eating a large bowl of cereal the morning of with a lot of milk, eating a banana right before, things that are going to help prepare your insides for what's coming."
The pepper isn't just recognized for its extreme heat, it's also copyrighted, making it difficult to bring in the supply for each year's eating. Still, Eaton says the "smokey, earthy, delayed burn," is worth going through the proper channels to get the peppers.
"You'll see people will be chewing it for about a good twenty seconds before they start to sweat and wonder why in the world they've decided to put this thing in their mouths," Eaton said.
Anyone interested in the reaper eating should email email@example.com to register. Full details are available here. There is a $3 charge for the pepper, milk and ice cream.
You can listen to the full interview below.