Londoner Mike Jack is no stranger to eating extremely hot chili peppers and setting new world records while doing so.
In just the last two years alone, Jack has set four Guinness World Records for consuming chili peppers, including three involving the Bhut Jolokia pepper, also known as the ghost pepper, one of the world’s hottest peppers.
“There’s actually eight different Guinness records on the Guinness record website. I’m trying to collect them all, just like Pokémon,” Jack said Monday.
His most recent record-breaking attempt, performed in November but only just confirmed by Guinness World Records officials, involved the Carolina Reaper chili pepper.
Three of them, to be exact.
The chili pepper, grown by Ed Currie of South Carolina-based PuckerButt Pepper Company, is officially the hottest chili pepper in the world, clocking in an average of 1,641,183 Scoville Heat Units.
“To put that in perspective, a jalapeño ranges from about, like, 2,000-8,000. So a lot hotter than a jalapeño. A crazy amount hotter,” Jack told 980 CFPL’s London Live with Mike Stubbs.
At his London home, with a camera rolling and wife Jamie serving as witness, timekeeper and coach, Jack downed the peppers in 9.72 seconds, setting a new speed record for eating three Carolina Reapers.
In video of the attempt posted online by Guinness World Records, Jack can be seen wolfing down the Carolina Reapers with ease.
The peppers, however, had different plans.
“It feels so good but it hurts so bad at the same time,” Jack, coughing and gagging, says while holding onto an orange bucket.
“My eyes are crying, but I’m happy on the inside.”
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Reflecting on his attempt, his 12th at clinching the record, Jack says the “capsaicin cramps” or “cap cramps” that come afterwards were “probably the most painful part of the whole process.”
“Capsaicin’s the chemical that makes the pepper feel hot. It feels like somebody reached into your gut and grabbed onto your intestines, squeezed them, and gave them a little twist.” he said.
Jack is well acquainted with “cap cramps” through previous record attempts and the training that leads up to them.
In January 2019, he set the record for fastest time eating three Bhut Jolokia chilis, doing so in 9.75 seconds. Two months later, he set the record for most Bhut Jolokia chili peppers eaten in one minute (97 grams).
It was less than a year ago, in February 2020, that Jack set his third world record for most Bhut Jolokia chili peppers eaten in two minutes (246 grams).
“It’s just something that I’ve kind of realized I’m good at, I guess, and I just want to pursue it as far as I could just to see how far I could go,” he said.
“The pepper, it does hurt a lot, but it actually doesn’t really cause any, like, physical damage, so it’s all just about pain and dealing with pain.”
Jack, who also runs a YouTube channel showcasing his various heat-related exploits, says his planned fifth world record attempt will be one involving peppers found much lower on the Scoville scale — the most jalapeños eaten in one minute.
“This will be the mildest record that I’ve gone for, but it may be the most difficult because a lot more people are willing to eat jalapeños than they are willing to eat ghost peppers or Carolina Reapers,” he said.
The current record holder is Alfredo Hernandes, who ate 16 jalapeño peppers in 2006 at Chicago’s La Costeña Feel the Heat Challenge.
“I know I can handle the heat. I need to get a little bit faster, so that’s what I’m working on now.”
In a statement on their post of Jack’s Carolina Reaper attempt, Guinness World Records notes that “consuming such hot chilli peppers without any training could result in serious side effects.”