"Why do I love peppers so much?" Louisiana native Ronald "Troy" Primeaux, who is trying to grow the world's hottest peppers, told the Associated Press. "It's because they're beautiful, yet they can be deadly. They're rock 'n' roll. There's something dangerous about them that's thrilling like a roller coaster."
You've heard of ghost peppers, the little red devils that are 125 to 400 times hotter than jalapenos. You might have seen YouTube daredevils perform the "ghost pepper challenge" in which they take a nibble of one of these and incredibly painful hijinks ensue.
Ghost peppers -- also known in their native home of India as bhut jolokia -- are among the spiciest peppers in the world, and can reach over one million on the Scoville scale of heat, according to The Washington Post. A bell pepper is zero units, and the hottest known pepper in the world, the Carolina Reaper, clocks in at about 1.5 million units. Ouch.
"Your body thinks it's going to die," Primeaux, who grows Louisiana Creepers to compete with Carolina Reapers, told AP of the monsters. "You're not going to die."
But one 47-year-old man came close.
The unnamed daredevil downed a burger topped with ghost pepper puree, and we'd be pretty proud of him for pushing through it if it stopped there. You can imagine what happened next: his life flashed before his eyes, all sorts of liquids probably gushed out of his eyes, nose, mouth and skin, and he downed six glasses of water. It didn't help. He started gagging and vomiting and had terrible chest and stomach pain.
When he went to the ER, doctors found that the hot pepper had ripped a 2.5-centimeter tear in his esophagus that was leaking fluids and food debris, according to the Journal of Emergency Medicine. They had to put a gastric tube into his throat and discharged him after 23 days in the hospital.
No news on how the unnamed ill-fated dude is doing now, but we suspect he might have a new-found appreciation for bland foods.
This occurrence is incredibly rare, the Journal notes, so no one is saying you're going to die every time you eat something too spicy, but you might want to keep an eye out if you down anything as hot as a ghost pepper.