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Nearly 20 years later, Fort Mill’s 'Carolina Reaper' continues to spark TV interest

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FORT MILL, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The world’s hottest pepper, grown in Fort Mill, continues to pique interest from people around the world. More peppers than ever before are now being shipped from Fort Mill to more than 95 countries.

The Guinness Book of World Records says the Carolina Reaper ranks more than 1.64 million on the Scoville Heat Unit scale. To put that in perspective, a Jalapeño is between 2,000 and 8,000 units.

The Carolina Reaper is far too hot for most people to try, but it has put Fort Mill, South Carolina on the map,

You won’t find the creator of the Carolina Reaper, Ed Currie, in a cushy office. He’s often on the outskirts of Fort Mill, down on the farm, sorting Carolina Reapers to meet demand. About 20,000 pounds are shipped across the world every day.

“I couldn’t make this up if I tried. All I was doing was trying to breed some peppers and make sauces and hot sauce for my friends and family,” said Currie.

The thing is Currie did make up the pepper while cross-pollinating them back in 2004, but he wasn’t trying to create the world’s hottest pepper.

“I was looking to enhance one of the capsinoids in peppers because I truly believe it has medical benefits,” said Currie.

From the greenhouse where the peppers are grown to the downtown storefront opened by Currie in 2009, the record-setting peppers have helped make Fort Mill world-renowned.

“I had never heard of Fort Mill until this all happened,” said Bella Peters.

A worldwide audience was introduced to Fort Mill in 2020. The Netflix series “We are the Champions” filmed a Carolina Reaper eating contest. Bella Peters came down from Ohio to compete.

“Ed is a legend in the spicy community. I totally fangirled when I first got to meet him. FYI,” said Peters.

She conquered eating the spicy specimens and never left, becoming a brand ambassador for Curries brand Puckerbutt Pepper Company.

“Working for Ed with this company and getting to eat spicy all day, helping people find their perfect sauce or whatever they want it’s a dream job it really is,” said Peters.


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Sometimes dreams have a chance of becoming a nightmare. Currie and his company are familiar with courtrooms. Those brave enough to eat the peppers sometimes file lawsuits.

“If you’re going to try the hottest pepper in the world you know what you’re doing,” said Currie.

Currie doesn’t sweat the small stuff, as the lawsuits are often thrown out. He says the heat is all in your head.

“Peppers have no heat. It’s a chemical reaction our brain perceives as heat. So even though it is unpleasant to eat a Carolina Reaper, it can’t do any damage to your body,” said Currie.

Behind the camera, Currie has become popular with the YouTube talk show “hot ones” by providing all the hot sauces.

In front of the camera, Currie will be featured on an upcoming episode of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe, which airs on the Discovery Channel and Discovery+. Filming for that episode wrapped up a few weeks ago.



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