In the past few years, more fast food menus than ever are using the word spicy. Spice its hot, really hot. With ambitious pepper picking producers, created in what is supposed to be food, it's... See More
In the past few years, more fast food menus than ever are using the word spicy. Spice its hot, really hot. With ambitious pepper picking producers, created in what is supposed to be food, it's actually more like pepper spray than a classic jalapeno. Heat seeking consumers are fueling a pepper arms race. We put abc's darren ravelle to the test literally in search of the hottest of them all. Is there anything hotter than a hot pepper these days? Not only pushing our tastebuds. In our spicy sauce, green chiles. A pepper getting more attention. Reporter: And our body to outrageous extremes. I'm sweating. Ready, set, go. Reporter: Go on youtube, you will find thousand of postings. Soon as you put it in your mouth. Reporter: Devoted to super hot papers. Like the ghost pepper, so spicy it causes people to tear, sweat, and curl up. Some one touched the thermostat. We set out to find out why pepper pain is so popular and to find the hottest pepper in the land. Our journey begins in brooklyn at chile pepper festival where people search for the height of heat. Hoping to add a new dimension to the same old meal. We're assure it is a national craze. There is not much I can't handle. Reporter: When we see this a a restaurant in boston. This top chef is whipping up a hot pepper halloween hell night. It is a new world of hot. Peppers are getting hotter every day. Hot food for the hearty who pay handsomely for a serving of spicy anguish. People want to experience something they never experienced before. They truly can do that with food and especially spicy food. But the more we immersed ourselves in all things pepper, the more we were convince weed had to come here, rock hill, south carolina. The epicenter of the hot pepper universe, and the home of ed curry, a former banker turned farmer, responsible for creating one of the hottest peppers in the world. When you close your eyes do you count? Yeah, I see peppers. You know when I look at my children, I see peppers. Because I -- Reporter: One of the hobbyists who cross breeds the peppers seeking to generate the most heat. We have stumbled upon what makes peppers grow. Upon the nutrients that make them hot. If this thing doesn't scream don't eat me from the look of it. There is another dead give away. Curry's breed is called the carolina reaper. That's hot. A hot pepper. A good pepper. Reporter: A pepper that is more than 100 times hotter than a jalapeno. The pools of it, at the bottom. Look would evil. It is really hot. Reporter: After they are picked, his peppers are mixed and crushed. Made into a paste here at his pucker bud pepper company. They then become the natural heat behind some of the hottest hot sauces in the world. The difference between having a little kick in your mouth and having your entire body pumping adrenaline. Reporter: It pays these days for curry to position himself as the the skcaptain of the active ingredient in peppers responsible for making them scream. There is something for wanting to use it over and over again. The euphoria of going on the roller coaster ride. The rush that you get happens every single time. You keep on chasing that rush over and over again. Reporter: In fact, the change in demographics is one of the things in his favor. Hispanics now make up 17% of the u.S. Population which has helped push salsa ahead of ketchup as the nation's top selling condiment. The latest brand of hot chili sauce, sold 20 million bottles. Heinz has hot and spicy ketchup. And this week. Sonic unveiled a spicy island fire chicken sandwich with habanero sauce. Curry admits his pepper is mint to beep pa part of a meal not popped hole into your mouth. The trick is chew it up a lot before you swallow it. Really? Of course that doesn't stop curry's employees from the occasional testing. Well that's the third reaper I have eaten, a little bit. I get so emotional. Ha-ha. Oh. Now it is just a searing burn right here. This year curry projects his business will harvest 17 million peppers. He is searching for the ultimate validation, submitting his lab work to guinness world records with help from the nearby university where a chemist spend his time testing the peppers actual units of heat. From a chemical standpoint, how close is this to -- to the compound that makes up say -- police grade pepper spray. Well, it's actually -- chemically almost identical. It sure sound hot. But what type of reporter would I be itchf I just took their word for it. This its so dangerous. Am I going to do this? I am going to do it. This is such a bad idea. Okay. Dragging eager chemistry student, kyle rind along with me. Just a tiny bite. Whoa. Right off the bat. It just, it just gets you. I mean -- its say pezzed to get worse from here? Suffice it to say, it was a painful 20 minutes. What am I going to. See how this would have any commercial value at all. That just doesn't make sense. To the contrary this business couldn't be any hotter. Makes you sweat. Makes tears come out of your eyes. Love when it makes me cry in a good way. For "nightline," darren ravelle, in rock hill, south carolina.
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