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Handling the Heat

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Why Can Some People Handle The Heat?

There's been a craze going about recently, and Youtube is slowing filling with reaction videos from it. People are intentionally suffering for likes, up votes and in some cases fame. I'm talking about the challenge to eat the Carolina Reaper Chilli on camera.

For the past few years, the Carolina Reaper has been the undisputed king of the Chilli world (our own 'Fear the Reaper' and 'Reaper's Skull' hot sauce use the chilli) and chilli-heads the world over have fallen in love with its heat level and the fruity, yet smoky flavour


The Guinness Book of World Records currently rates the Carolina Reaper as the hottest chilli in the world, with an average rating, ranging from1.5 Million SHU (Scoville Heat Units) to 2.2 Million, and was created by Ed Currie from the Puckerbutt Pepper Company, based in South Carolina.

But I've always wondered why some people can tolerate, and actively seek out the pain/pleasure of eating a food that can cause so much pain in others?

As a chilli-head myself, one of the joys of creating and selling hot sauce is the reactions that I get. It ranges from fellow chilli lovers appreciating the heat and flavour of Rock A Doodle Do's sauces (That's why we do it after all), to others that insist on trying the hot sauce we sell, then proceed to flap their arms, drink as much milk as possible, before glaring at me with a humbling hatred in their eyes. I mean, their friend/partner was able to eat it without a fuss, so why did it hurt them so much?

Well, it turns out that there could be a few factors:

One of the most obvious is the fact that some people are born with less Capsaicin receptors in their mouth and throat (Did you know that birds don't have any?), which would make them less sensitive to the pepper.Others have been brought up with a spicy diet. It has been know in India that new mothers dab chilli oil on the infant's lips to enable them to become comfortable with the spice. In my own case, my mother had cravings for hot curries, and I have been drawn to them my entire life. Other social issues may play a part, where eating hotter and hotter chillies becomes a competition among friends, and others may enjoy the endorphin rush that the ingestion of hot chillies provide.

Endorphins comprise a group of approximately chemicals that are released by the brain and produce the feeling of happiness while reducing pain and helping combat the effects of stress, and can be produced from eating chocolate, chillies and exercising.

So whatever your reason for eating chillies, whether its for the love of the spice, or the reaction you'll make from torturing your tongue, I would advise you to try each and every variety out there and find which ones work for you.