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Rock Hill Man Grows World's Hottest Pepper

Tanner Latham

An update to a story we brought you two years ago. We profiled Ed Currie of Rock Hill who was on a quest to grow the world’s hottest pepper. Well, he’s succeeded. The Guinness Book of World Records recently certified his Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper as the hottest pepper in the world.

When Currie first got the news he fell to his knees in tears and started thanking God.

"I was actually at the Southern Christmas Show in Charlotte," Currie says. "People thought I had found out bad news and they were all going ‘Oh, is he OK?’"

The pepper is about 300 times hotter than a jalapeno. And I can tell you from personal experience it’s like lighting your head on fire.

Currie began his quest to grow the world’s hottest pepper in his back yard four years ago. Back then, he was a banker by day and sold his peppers and hot sauces through his side business: the Pucker Butt Pepper Company. Currie was able to quit his banking job a year ago. Pucker Butt has grown to include 20 staffers, several fields that grow a variety of peppers, and stores in Fort Mill and inside the Seventh Street Market in uptown Charlotte. Currie says since the Guinness World Record news, the company’s daily orders have more than tripled.

But Currie hasn’t lost sight of why he started growing peppers in the first place: a substance in the peppers called capsinoids.

"Cancer and heart disease," Currie says. "I truly still believe that capsinoids have something to do with the prevention and/or cure. And there’s a lot of medical research that’s proving us correct."

Currie’s family has a high rate of cancer. He donates his peppers to universities and research labs that are working on a cure.

So what’s next for the man who grows the world’s hottest pepper? Currie says he’s working on an even hotter pepper that’s still being tested.

Marshall came to WFAE after graduating from Appalachian State University, where he worked at the campus radio station and earned a degree in communication. Outside of radio, he loves listening to music and going to see bands - preferably in small, dingy clubs.