Peppers: The Battle over Hot and Hotter


The Big Game nears.

The Super Bowl?


The real Big Game.

The game of competing to see who can come up with the hottest salsa.

The dance?

No, the sauce.

That bottomless bowl food item served at Super Bowl parties.

The one that causes supposed grown men to compete to see who can whip up the salsa with the greatest number of Scoville Heat Units.

Hot, hot, hot.

Consumed by the gallons.

Eating Jalpeno peppers, even in Wyoming, can make a grown man cry.
Eating Jalpeno peppers, even in Wyoming, can make a grown man cry.

Even the tank load.

And the hotter the better.

Scorching hot.

Pungency rules.

Pungency wins.

So hot, so pungent it takes the roof off of the mouth.

Burns from head to toe.

Makes would-be macho men cry.

And try not to admit it.

So hot it double dog dares you to eat it.

Then belly-laughs at you because you did.

Woe be to the first-time jalapeno eater.
Woe be to the first-time jalapeno eater.

The heat of it might range from the mild-to-hot jalapeno to the pepper some claim is the hottest in the world – the Carolina Reaper.

As in Grim Reaper?

Maybe so.

Careful. It’ll get you.

The claim is that it is so potent it rivals the pepper spray used by police.

People know better than to take on the pepper – any hot pepper.

But they can’t resist.

To wit:

A New York–based  newspaper chain bought a Texas newspaper.

Some of the New York newspaper   corporation  executives  came  to Texas  to mark  the  occasion.

A big party was held at a downtown  club to celebrate.

The club staff  brought out a Texas-size assortment of food and drink.

Appropriately — this being Texas  —  a  large  tray of jalapeno  peppers  was  included.

One of  the  New Yorkers  picked  up  a  big  jalapeno, popped it into his mouth  and chomped it down.

His face turned red.

His eyes watered.

Then he cried.

He  choked.

He  coughed.

He  spit.

Hands  shaking,  he grabbed   a  glass of  water  and  drank  it  in  a single  swallow.

Then  he  gulped  a  second  glass of  water.

Finally, he  caught  his breath,   regained  his  composure.

Slowly,  normal  color began  to  return to his face.

At  long  last,  he was able to speak.

Whereupon he proclaimed:

“Damn!  Hottest pickled okra I’ve ever eaten!”

Roger Summers is a journalist and essayist who spends time in Texas, New Mexico and England and in a world of curiosity and creativity. He is the author of The Day Camelot Came to Town and Heart Songs From a Washboard Road. He can be reached at [email protected]

Washboard Road

Please click book cover image to read more about the short story collection of Roger Summers, Heart Songs from a Washboard Road.

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