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Carolina Reaper, worlds hottest pepper

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Last month, The Guinness Book of World Records decided Ed Currie's Carolina Reaper peppers were the hottest on Earth. Carolina Reaper peppers are nearly as powerful as the pepper spray used by police departments.

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The record is for the hottest batch of Currie's peppers that was tested at Winthrop University, code name HP22B for "Higher Power, Pot No. 22, Plant B."

The science of hot peppers centers around chemical compounds called capsaicinoids. The higher concentration the hotter the pepper, said Cliff Calloway, the Winthrop University professor whose students tested Currie's peppers.

The heat of a pepper is measured in Scoville Heat Units. Zero is bland rather neutral, while a jalapeno pepper registers around 5,000 on the Scoville scale. Ed Currie's world record batch of Carolina Reapers comes in at 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units, with an individual pepper measured at 2.2 million. Pepper spray is at about 2 million Scoville Units.

Ed has been interested in peppers all his life, and the hotter the pepper, the better. Ten years ago when he tasted a sweet hot pepper from the Caribbean it stirred his interest and he has been working hard to breed the hottest pepper he can since then.

And the hot pepper market is growing. In less than five years, the amount of hot peppers eaten by Americans has increased 8 percent, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics.

You can order Carolina Reaper seeds from Ed Currie's company, PuckerButt Pepper Company, at http://www.puckerbuttpeppercompany.com.

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