It’s not a huge secret that eating spicy food has its fair share of health benefits. Research has shown that going for something a bit hotter can help kill cancer cells and bacteria, lower your blood pressure and even prevent depression and stress. That, of course, is if you can handle it. Some meals can be mild, others have a kick to them, and a few — the mad, bad few — will send you hurtling into a world of pain, where no amount of milk, rice or bread can save you from the cramps, headaches, hallucinations and sheer heat you’re guaranteed to experience. You’re probably going to want to be in easy reach of a hospital if you’re going to give any of these dishes a go in the near future.
We begin with a pepper that goes a little above and beyond what you might call ‘pain’ and into what you might instead call ‘a hideous death’, with the infamous Dragon’s Breath Chili. Grown in Wales with the support of Nottingham University, the Dragon’s Breath hits a staggering 2.48 million on the Scoville scale (which is used to measure the heat of spicy foods). For reference, your standard jalapeno comes in at around 5,000 on the same scale, while some of the peppers which make up the other dishes on this list barely scrape a million.
Nobody’s ever consumed one of these peppers whole, because it’s assumed that doing so would burn your airways and induce anaphylactic shock. It’s actually simply used as an anesthetic for people with allergies, since it can numb the skin if applied correctly. So, you know, don’t try this at home.
Just because it won’t kill you, of course, doesn’t mean it’s going to be much fun to eat. This mantra rings true with the dish that is charmingly known as the Widower Curry, which is served at an Indian restaurant in Grantham, England and includes 20 Naga Infinity Chilies in its recipe. The Naga Infinity Chili, in case you’re wondering, comes to around a little over one million on the Scoville scale.
To date, only one person has ever finished the curry — a radiologist from Lincolnshire who took over an hour to eat it, and who hallucinated as a result. Others have reported sweating, shaking, vomiting and openly weeping as symptoms. There’s a reason the chefs who cook the Widower Curry use protective face masks, after all.
The Kismot Killer
Another curry here, and one that (perhaps unsurprisingly, at this point) also hails from the UK. The Kismot Killer was conceived in a curry house in Edinburgh. In 2011, an eating competition at the restaurant involving the Kismot Killer led to a number of the poor fools who decided to consume it suffering from intense stomach pain — to the point that they were unable to move — vomiting and unconsciousness, while two people were taken to hospital.
The Kismot Killer contains both the Dorset Naga and the Ghost Naga, which are (obviously) ranked as some of the hottest chilies on the planet. Since the ill-fated competition, the owners of the Kismot Curry House have since decided to tone down the recipe, which, frankly, is probably what you ought to be doing if the emergency services are insisting on it.
Brick Lane’s Phaal
Manhattan’s Brick Lane Curry House is the home of this particular phaal — a tomato-based British-Asian curry which originated in Birmingham — that’s alleged to be among the world’s hottest. Measuring about one million units on the Scoville scale and containing the nefarious Ghost Naga, this phaal has caused all of the classic symptoms you’d hope to never get from eating food, including crying, sweating, vomiting, hallucinations and, in some cases, hospitalization.
A journalist who visited the Brick Lane Curry House described it as akin to “chewing on a live grenade”. If the naan and rice isn’t enough to keep the heat at bay and those stomach cramps start to kick up a notch, never fear: we make the nearest hospital out to be only a fifteen minute drive away. Manhattan is always so convenient.
It’s not exactly the biggest surprise in the world that there are curries out there that can make you feel like you’re dying — that’s what they’re pretty much for, isn’t it? What you might not know, however, is that there are Doritos that can make you feel the same way. A couple of years ago, Doritos released a new promotional variety, Doritos Roulette, which included a handful of especially spicy chips in each packet.
After consuming only one packet, a British schoolgirl ended up vomiting, sweating and experiencing severe breathing problems which later induced an asthma attack. It was later advised that children not consume the new type of Doritos snack. Now, if you’re an adult with no previous health issues then you’d probably be fine eating a packet of these, but it’s still more than a little impressive (and horrifying) that Doritos actually managed to release a form of potato chip so hot that it could make kids throw up.
Burger Off’s Spicy Burger
Ever had a spicy bean burger and been a little disappointed that they’re not actually that spicy? Well, Burger Off, a small take-out in Brighton, has you covered. They claim to have created the world’s hottest burger using a secret recipe including a mysterious sauce that’s slathered onto the burgers before cooking. According to the restaurant, a number of people who’ve consumed this particular burger have been taken to the hospital (occasionally in an ambulance) and the local paramedics have strongly advised that it be taken off the menu.
The owners, however, have continued to sell it, and claim the burger rates at a quite unbelievable six million on the Scoville scale. We’re not entirely convinced that’s accurate (especially considering a chili less than half that value can kill you) but that’s not going to offer much solace when you’re doubled over and writhing in pain in a hospital bed two days after having eaten it.
Forget your jalapenos or your bell peppers — for a proper spicy pizza you’re going to have to go a lot harder than that when it comes to toppings. The Saltdean Sizzler, another British creation (what is it with this British obsession with searing people’s tongues off?) lays claim to being the hottest pizza in the world. It uses a specially-made ghost chili paste to allegedly surpass the three million mark on the Scoville scale. Of the thousand who have tried the pizza, only nine have succeeded, and many have complained of “relentless” stomach aches and “unbearable” pain.
Paul Brayshaw, who created the pizza (and who is unable to finish it himself) claims it’s the addition of the sauce that turns it into a dark reddish and black color. Top tip from us: never trust black pizza.
Carolina Reaper Wings
You might be familiar with the concept of suicide wings, a popular type of chicken wing dish that’s often found in spicy challenges across the USA, and which were popularized by the TV show Man v. Food, but these particular wings go one step further. They are made with the Carolina Reaper, a chili which reaches around two million on the Scoville scale, and were created by the George, a pub in Stockton-upon-Tees.
Last year, a man who took part in a competition to eat ten of the chicken wings was put in the hospital, suffering from severe stomach pains after eating only three of them. A second customer ended up there shortly after, being unable to walk because of the cramps the wings gave him.
16 Million Reserve Hot Sauce
What’s the worst thing you can do before eating any of the foods on this list? We’d probably have to say it’s dousing them in hot sauce. That goes especially for Blair Lazar’s’16 Million Reserve,which is made of pure capsaicin, the active ingredient of chili peppers which gives them their heat. It’s thousands of times stronger than Tabasco sauce, and, according to Lazar himself, only the smallest amount is to throw yourself into a hellscape of spiciness.
The sauce gets its name for pure capsaicin’s place on the Scoville scale, beating out the world’s most dangerous and hottest peppers many, many times over. Only 999 bottles were ever sold, with each being individually signed by Lazar himself. If you do manage to get hold of one, you might just be better off selling it to somebody else and letting it be their problem instead.
How can you protect yourself?
So let’s get hypothetical for a moment: say you’re brave or stupid enough to decide to want to try one of these dishes, or you think including any of the chilies we’ve mentioned in a dish you’re making yourself is in any way a good idea. What’s the best way to protect yourself against the incessant pain you’re bound to experience over the concurrent few days?
Well, first of all, don’t do it at all if you don’t have a high threshold for hot food. Tolerances are built over time, and that’s definitely the case here. Work your way up. When you’re actually consuming the dish, eat slowly and keep an ice-cool drink by your side. Make sure to eat something dry and rough with it, too, such as bread or rice. Once you’ve finished — if you’ve finished — there are a few things you can eat that should help you cope, including milk, yogurt, sugar, honey and smooth fruits such as avocados and bananas. Other than that, just grit your teeth, take the burn and maybe consider ordering a korma next time.