The 7 Hottest Peppers In The World, From Pepper X To Naga Viper

Published January 17, 2024

Pepper X has recently been named the hottest pepper in the world, but it's far from the only spicy chili that's setting tongues ablaze.

Throughout history, people around the world have eaten hot peppers for various reasons, from cultural traditions to health benefits. But in recent years, many have approached spicy peppers as a challenge. This has led some people to ask: What is the hottest pepper in the world?

Currently, the world’s hottest pepper is Pepper X, a small, yellowish-green pepper developed by Ed Currie, the founder of the South Carolina-based PuckerButt Pepper Company. Pepper X was introduced in 2023, dethroning the previous record holder, the Carolina Reaper, which was also developed by Currie. Interestingly enough, Pepper X is a crossbreed of the Carolina Reaper and an unnamed “brutally hot” pepper that came from Michigan.

With the rise of hot pepper eating contests and shows like Hot Ones — which involves celebrity guests eating increasingly hot wings as they attempt to answer ordinary questions from host Sean Evans — it’s no surprise that chili pepper farmers are constantly looking for ways to push the limits of how hot a pepper can be. And some, like Currie, keep outdoing themselves.

So, keep a glass of milk handy as we dive in to explore seven of the hottest peppers in the world — and the fiery stories behind them.

Pepper X: The Hottest Pepper In The World

Hottest Pepper In The World

Wikimedia CommonsPepper X was Ed Currie’s follow-up to the Carolina Reaper.

In October 2023, South Carolina chili pepper breeder Ed Currie proved that he was the master of creating fiery peppers when he set the Guinness World Record for the world’s hottest pepper with Pepper X, breaking his own record that he set 10 years prior with the famous Carolina Reaper.

While the Carolina Reaper was only marginally hotter than its predecessor, the Naga Viper, Currie’s new creation, Pepper X, incinerated the Carolina Reaper — with a rating of 2,693,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHUs). To understand how hot that is, it’s important to understand what an SHU is.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the level of the chemical compound capsaicin determines how hot a pepper feels in a person’s mouth, and that “heat” level is expressed via the Scoville Scale. For comparison, a jalapeño typically measures between 2,000 and 8,000 SHUs.

Currie debuted Pepper X on the YouTube series Hot Ones, showing off just how powerfully spicy this pepper is. As Currie explained to the Associated Press, eating the pepper is a truly painful experience.

“I was feeling the heat for three-and-a-half hours. Then the cramps came,” he recalled. “Those cramps are horrible. I was laid out flat on a marble wall for approximately an hour in the rain, groaning in pain.”

Although Currie debuted the Carolina Reaper a decade ago, he explained that he had been working on developing Pepper X for several years. According to Currie, it took him 10 years just to get Pepper X from the experimental crossbreeding phase to the record, and that included five years of tests to prove that Pepper X was its own unique plant.

Unlike the Carolina Reaper, however, Currie is not releasing the seeds for Pepper X. More than 10,000 other companies used the Carolina Reaper name without his permission, and he wants to be sure that Pepper X will be able to provide for his family and his workers. So, for now, anyone who wants to try Pepper X has to buy a product from Currie’s PuckerButt Pepper Company.

Austin Harvey
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.
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Harvey, Austin. "The 7 Hottest Peppers In The World, From Pepper X To Naga Viper.", January 17, 2024, Accessed June 25, 2024.