Eating the World’s Hottest Pepper

tears of joy sign AustinA few weeks ago, I was in Austin, Texas for the SXSW music festival. Since I was in town for over 10 days, I wanted to get away from the festival and explore Austin. I asked some of my local friends to give me a list of their Austin. I wanted something more than what I’d find online. One of the items on that list was Tears of Joy, a hot sauce shop located downtown. There I could buy some of the world’s hottest sauces (conveniently located in a coffin-shaped shelf) and sample some of the sauces they make.

Now, I hate spicy food. Almost as much as I hate heights. While years of eating Thai food built up a mild tolerance for those spices, generally, I can’t handle spicy food. I never developed a taste for it. If I go out for Indian or Mexican, I get it as mild as possible.

But you only live once and I thought the image of me eating the Ghost Pepper would make a great video. The Ghost Pepper (Naga Bhut Jolokia) is considered the world’s hottest pepper with a Scoville heat rating of over one million.

On a bright sunny morning, I walked into the shop and got the hottest Ghost Pepper sauce they had as well as pure capsicum extract (i.e. death in bottle).

The results? Watch this video to see (I made a funny ending so watch until the end!):

It took me all day to recover and I must have drank two gallons of milk. It was an interesting experience but now that I’ve survived that, hot sauce doesn’t seem so bad anymore. It’s like throwing someone in the deep end to teach them to swim. If I can survive pure extract, I can survive spicy Indian food.

The next time you visit Austin, check out Tears of Joy for some burn-your-mouth hot sauces. You can sample many varieties and they provide ample milk to wash it down. If you like spicy food, you haven’t lived until you tried a bottled labeled “keep away from children.”

  1. Haha this was hilarious…you can barely talk! can’t believe you went back for more. i missed this place when I was in Austin. But yeah, once you’ve eaten really spicy stuff, it gets so much easier to eat spicy food in Asia.

    • NomadicMatt

      I’ve been eating soem spicy food now because I figure “if I can survive a ghost pepper, I can eat anything.”

  2. Haha, too funny…You’re a brave guy for going through that!

    This video reminds me of the time I got some type of pepper powder in my eye in sixth grade. Holy Jesus I couldn’t see for a week!

  3. After seeing your tweet, I was wondering how you were going to do with that ghost chili! I broke out into a sweat just watching you taste it. Yowza!

  4. Brings new meaning to the words “Hot Stuff!” :-) Good on ya, Matt. I’m especially impressed given the fact that you don’t enjoy spicy food.

  5. I had an old co-worker that was into the extreme peppers like that. Supposedly, intensely spicy foods release greater quantities of serotonin in your system, which can give you the same contented feeling as a moderate amount of alcohol. I think whiskey is easier on the system than ghost peppers though:)

  6. I tried ghost chili too, at Burning Man. It’s common there to gift things, so someone offered me a “spicy shot” and I thought nothing of it. He failed to tell me it was vodka infused with ghost chili! He then presented me with a guest book to write my experience in as I was tearing and snotting from the shot. JERK! (all in good fun, though)

  7. that’s way awesome!
    reminds me of when i was about 8 or so and i went vegetable picking with my cousins. we picked a hot pepper and i got dared to eat it. i took a teeny, tiny nibble from the end and finding it not to be hot, proudly proclaimed, ‘it’s so not hot’ and took a huge bite. i spent the next hour hopping around the field on one foot with a beet red face and drinking up everyone’s water bottles :-)

  8. shannon

    Hey Matt, great video!

    you can also use sugar packets to help with the heat as well in your mouth. If you can get to milk fast enough. :)

    I use a touch of ghost pepper in my chili, but it’s a huge pot (5 lbs of beef and tons of other stuff) so you get the flavor and not all the heat. :)

    Glad to see you survived.. you should come to Kentucky for the Derby!

  9. You are indeed a brave man. I can’t believe you tried this but the end of your video is priceless. I guess now you’re conditioned for whatever “heat” comes your way! Great post.

  10. Great job Matt! you’ve become my inspiration. I too wish to be a travel writer but so not want to work for anyone else except myself. I’ll just take an off from work for 15 days and will go to Caribbean Islands to see how much can I explore new things.

  11. I love ghost peppers, but you really have to be insane to try to taste pure capsaicin extract. I’ve eaten every hot pepper there is, but I won’t even touch the pure extract. Nice work and thanks for sharing.

  12. Matt, the Ghost pepper is NOT the hottest in the world…the Trinidad scorpion is with some specimens coming in at 2 million SHU!!! Might not want to try that one out.

  13. Billy Cohen

    Hi Matt, I am impressed! I salute you for conquering your fear.. I too wish to be a travel writer but so not want to work for anyone else except myself

  14. Luke

    Well done taking on the Ghost Chilli. I hate to say it, but one of my mad countrymen has actually bred a chilli even hotter than that one. Ghost Chilli rates around 1,032,310 Scoville Units (, but he has created the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T which weighs in at 1,463,700 Scoville Units. I have no idea why he made it this strong, but even the thought of it melts my mind.

  15. I guess this should make you want to come to India – we have a myriad ways (or rather, chilies) of making you shed tears. The Bhut Jolokia’s Indian, by the way – it grows wild in the North East.

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