Don't fear the Carolina Reaper. But you should absolutely approach its scorching scythe of flavor with extreme caution.
Next month, and for a limited time, the wacky tortilla gourmets at Paqui will start selling Carolina Reaper Madness chips online and at select stores nationwide. And by "chips," we really mean "chip."
Priced at $4.99, said item comes in a small, red, coffin-shaped box with the robed figure of death depicted on the front and, on the reverse, this challenge: "Do you dare to go to hell and back?" You get one—that's right, ONE—standard-size chip per package.
That's because this particular snack is spiced with fearsome Carolina Reaper peppers, widely touted as the hottest variety on Earth, topping the Scoville Heat Chart at 2.2 million SHUs. (Suck it, Trinidad Moruga Scorpion! Don't strain your stem looking up from second place!)
The little devils even inspired a meme, with brave idiots scarfing down the flame-balls and posting their reactions online. A few weeks back, some Ohio middle-school kids ate the accursed things and were treated for extreme burning sensations in their mouths, blotchy skin, hives and vomiting.
Hey, sounds like fun. Right?!
Paqui encourages fans to try the Carolina Reaper chips and share their reactions on social media. Those tagging @PaquiTortillas and using the hashtags #OneChipChallenge and #sweeps get free bags of the brand's more conventionally flavored crisps, and the chance to win a year's supply of chips and a GoPro Hero4 Silver. (So you can film yourself scarfing down chips from here to eternity.)
Here's a promo clip of folks indulging in some Paqui Reaper madness:
No one expired, though clearly, some didn't particularly want to go on living. Here at Adweek, we have a history of sampling unusual experiences for ourselves. You might recall one of our colleagues consuming every item on Taco Bell's Dollar Menu at a single sitting, while another braved the olfactory horrors of a fart-smelling VR device. (This is how you win Pulitzers, people!)
Anyway, after confirming our healthcare premiums were up to date, and with a glass of water nearby, this reporter dutifully devoured one of Paqui's Carolina Reaper morsels. After savoring a faint, fleeting note of sweetness, we quickly concluded that… SWEET SWEATY BETTY SAVE YOUR LIDDLE BIDDY BABY WHOAAAAA POPPA MOW MOW HOT-HOT-HOTSY!!
It was like a religious experience, mainly because our tongue was on fire. And that accursed conflagration was reaching down down down into our digestive depths, twisting us sideways/inside-out/round-and-round with searing waves of pepper-powered pain.
The water—it did nothing! And 20 minutes later, we still felt a hint of heat as the embers slowly died in the ravaged ruins of our mouth.
Still, for all that, it wasn't as bad as eating Pringles.
"Paqui is aiming to reach those audiences who like to push their limits," brand manager Jeff Day tells Adweek. "This chip is certainly on the extreme end, but it brings to life in a real way what we can do, which is deliver authentic flavors and experiences."
Here's Day putting himself to the test:
Was that clip kind of blurry? Maybe our vision hasn't come all the way back just yet. With this chip, you really can—and should—eat just one.
More pics of the cool packaging below.