Fresh Carolina Reaper Peppers

Carolina Reaper Pepper, HP22B, HP22BNH, HP22BNH7

The Carolina Reaper (aka  HP22B, HP22BNH7 & HP22BNH) was declared the hottest pepper in the world by Guinness World Records on August 7, 2013. [1] [2] It was initially created by Ed Currie, owner of the Puckerbutt Pepper Company®.

[pepper_menu pepper=”carolina reaper”]

  • Averages 1,569,300 SHU [1]
  • Ranges between 1,150,00 – 2,200,000 SHU [2]

Carolina Reaper Pepper: Decades of Planning

According to a fairly new interview with Ed Currie, he’s been planning the hottest pepper in the world since 1981.  That pepper would later take the Guinness World Record in 2013 as the Carolina Reaper pepper.  So the pepper was planned 32 years before it took the Guinness World Record.

From an article dated July 23, 2014 – “I said I was going to grow the hottest pepper in the world and that I was going to cure cancer,”Ed Currie speaking of a statement made in 1981

The Carolina Reaper was an Instant Success

Fresh Carolina Reaper Peppers
Fresh Carolina Reaper Peppers

Perhaps due to the elegant grooming of its back story, the Carolina Reaper flooded media outlets to become more talked about than the better known Ghost Pepper.

“It was by trying to grow a sweet pepper that Currie claims he accidentally created the world’s hottest.” – From an interview with Ed Currie creator of the Carolina Reaper [3]

It was the type of success story that Americans love to hear. The average Joe finds gold in his back yard. Other interviews with Ed Currie lent themselves to this image of him being an ordinary guy who made good. Some articles even served to portray this image to devout ChiliHeads.

“Currie knew he had something special as soon as he laid eyes on the Reaper—it was the first pepper he’d even seen with a stinger.” [3]

With the tremendous media attention, many products featuring the Carolina Reaper were introduced by various individuals and companies.

Instant Outrage

Carolina Reaper pepper
Carolina Reaper Pepper

Of the outrage, let me first say that I firmly believe the creator of a new cultivar should have the right to protect his or her intellectual property. To establish this, we have rules of law which cover such things.

The Carolina Reaper is not Patented – Plant patents are not available to plants which reproduce sexually per the Plant Patient Act of 1930 and its revisions. [7]

Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970 [8] offers protection to sexually reproduced plants. But unlike the Red Savina, a previously protected title holder, the Carolina Reaper does not seem to have been awarded such protection. This could be because the Carolina Reaper is not considered distinct enough for protection.

Civil Contract – Although I can not find it currently on the official Puckerbutt Pepper Company® website, reportedly there was once a civil agreement of sorts which forbade the purchase of seed for any commercial purpose. Evidently, buyers were not to sell their crop, seed from that crop, or products made from that crop. One grower claimed that upon learning this, he burnt his entire crop. It seems many felt the notice was not conspicuous. Others seemed to think the Puckerbutt Pepper Company® was attempting to create retroactive contracts without the consent of the seed buyers. Complicating matters, it seems even contracted sellers of the Carolina Reaper seeds were not including the civil contract. I am sure you can see why growers who were not aware of the contract and had invested time and money in growing a crop would be outraged at the thought they could not sell it.

While contracts should be respected, this reported civil agreement flew in the face of the long standing traditional relationship between seed producer and grower. Farmers purchase seed to grow produce with the intent of selling that produce.

History Repeats Itself

Carolina Reapers with seeds.
Carolina Reapers with seeds.

With Carolina Reaper seeds appearing in so many seed selections, the genie was clearly out of the bottle. However, neither that nor the outrage expressed by American growers has prevented history from repeating itself in other countries.

“As part of the Re-Sellers legal agreement with Ed Currie Re-Sellers can only supply the seeds to customers on the understanding that they only grow these peppers for their own use.” – From the UK based Chlli Pepper Company [9]

Carolina Reaper HP22BNH & HP22B

Before it was called the Carolina Reaper, the various efforts Ed Currie made to create a new pepper had only letters and numbers.  If you search the term HP22B, you are likely to find many results.  The original Carolina Reaper was from pot 22 and it was plant B.  Once the official name was announced, the Carolina Reaper became discussed and recognized under that title or perhaps as Caroling Reaper HP22B.  As far as I can tell, there was no mention of HP22BNH until January of 2015.  Now, as if history is being rewritten, references to the Carolina Reaper sometimes include the call sign: HP22BNH.

Carolina Reaper Controversy Expands

Note that all statements are documented and footnoted

While the general public gobbled up the story of someone accidentally creating the hottest pepper in the world, ChiliHeads had many questions. The first being how anyone working with super hot peppers had never before seen any of the peppers derived from the Trinidad Scorpion that retained the stinger. After all, the Trinidad Scorpion peppers were named after that stinger that Ed Currie said he had never before seen on a pepper.

“Currie knew he had something special as soon as he laid eyes on the Reaper—it was the first pepper he’d even seen with a stinger.” [3]

Trinidad Scorpion Butch T
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T

In fact, the Carolina Reaper displaced the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T as the Guinness World Records champion. [4] One might think the creator of the Carolina Reaper had at least seen a picture of the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T whose world record he was challenging.

Of all the peppers with stingers, the one that stands out in this discussion is the 7 Pot Primo which often looks identical to Carolina Reaper peppers. [10] The back and forth argument in ChiliHead forums centered on taste. However, the range of flavor from any variety of peppers is enormous. Between the specific dna and growing conditions, we even see accounts that the Carolina Reaper ranging in SHU by over 100%. [2]

Carolina Reaper History Rewritten

By December of 2014, the history of the Carolina Reaper entered into a revision. Where previously it was created by accident by a novice who had never seen a pepper with a stinger, now it involved specific cross breeding techniques usually reserved for beans.

“His “Carolina Reaper” pepper, created through a cross-breeding technique usually used on beans, was certified as the hottest in the world” [5]

The enigma of this claim is that beans reproduce via cleistogamy (automatic self-pollination) [6] where the flowers do not open to share their pollen. Hence techniques to extract that pollen. Peppers are open pollinating plants. There is no need to open their flowers to extract their pollen. In fact, if opened prematurely there is a good chance the pollen would be underdeveloped.

More Revision of History

From the beginning, the Carolina Reaper was said to be a hybrid rather than a refinement of another pepper. When introducing such a hybrid, one might think not being forthcoming with the exact peppers that you crossed would be a good idea. However, causing a hybrid to become stable requires years and years to become stable. The process is generally called ‘growing it out’. From what I understand, the Carolina Reaper took 12 years to develop. So while I can understand the motivation behind protecting your creation with secrecy, I do not think it is necessary. Even less necessary once the seeds for that cultivar are available so very widely.

But what is truly strange about the Carolina Reaper’s parents is that they seem to change with time. It is as if someone is intentionally rewriting this peppers history and lineage.

Article Dated August 21, 2012“I will say that they are Asian/Sub-Asian descent and both are HOT” – From an Interview with Ed Currie [11]

Article Dated September 17, 2013 – “It was by trying to grow a sweet pepper that Currie claims he accidentally created the world’s hottest.” – From an interview with Ed Currie creator of the Carolina Reaper [3]

It seems odd that a person would try to grow a sweet pepper by crossing two extremely hot peppers. Even stranger are the many other claims to the original peppers that were crossed to create the Carolina Reaper.

Article Dated 12/26/13“Ed Currie took a sweet hot pepper from the Caribbean and worked to make it hotter.” [12]

Article Dated December 15, 2014“They were a Soufriere pepper from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and a Naga pepper from Pakistan” [13]

So now the Caribbean is in Asia?

“He said he tested hundreds of hybrid combinations before finally crossing a “really nastily hot” La Soufriere pepper from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and a Naga pepper from Pakistan…” [13]

The problem here is that Soufriere is a town on Saint Lucia Island, not on St. Vincent. .Oh but it gets weirder.

From Wildfire Chille in Australia, reportedly a contracted merchant, we see a mind boggling claim:

“It is a hybrid between a Habanero and Naga Viper, both of the Capsicum Chinese family.” [14]

Mind boggling because it takes years to make a new cross stable. The Naga Viper did not exist when the initial cross to create the Carolina Reaper must have occurred. [15]

What makes the Naga Viper story particularly interesting is that the seemingly impossible claim does not only come from an official Puckerbutt distributor, but from Guinness World Records itself.

“His record-breaking Carolina Reaper has been ten years in the making, having meticulously worked on stabilising [SIC] and testing the pepper, which is a crossing between Sweet Habanero and Naga Viper chillies. ”  per Guinness World Records [17]

Note Guinness World Records states not only that the Carolina Reaper was created by originally crossing the Naga Viper, but in the same sentence said it took 10 years to stabilize that cross.  The Naga Viper does not seem to have existed at the time.

The Chilli Pepper Company, a contracted merchant in the United Kingdom, has yet another story.

“This is a variety developed by selective breeding, between a red Habanero and a Naga from Pakistan by Ed Currie and PuckerButt Pepper Company of Rock Hill, SC.” [9]

Wikipedia once told us it was a cross between a red Naga and a Red Habanero. As of February 7, 2015 it says the Carolina Reaper was created by crossing a ghost chile pepper with a red habanero. The foot note traces back to the Puckerbutt Pepper Company® web site where there is no such claim. I could go on with the many, many stories of how this pepper was created but I think my point has been made.

Winston Churchill described Russia as: “ a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”. That is how I have come to think of the Carolina Reaper Pepper.

In Closing

I apologize if this article upsets or offends anyone. I set out to write about the Carolina Reaper, a wonderful pepper that I grow and enjoy. But in researching the article, most of what I found was conflicting information which led to no where solid. So instead of presenting facts, I presented the many reasons I could not present the facts.

It was in search of those facts that I uncovered the final enigma of this story. In an effort to make sure I properly noted all trademarks, I learned that the Puckerbutt Pepper Company®, LLC owns a trademark for: “Puckerbutt Pepper Company Pure All Natural Heat Est. 1968”.[16] That year is long before I can find any record of the Puckerbutt Pepper Company.

The more I research, the stranger the story gets.

[pepper_menu pepper=”carolina reaper”]

[wppg_photo_gallery id=”2″]


1. Hottest Chili – Guinness World Records retrieved January 15, 2015
Carolina Reaper pepper at Wikipedia – Retrieved February 6, 2015
3. So God Made the World’s Hottest Pepper – Retrieved February 8, 2015
4. Trinidad Scorpion Butch T at Wikipedia – Retrieved February 5, 2015
5. Chester County Year in Review – Retrieved February 5, 2015
6. Cleistogamy at Wikipedia – Retrieved February 5, 2015
7. Plant Patient Act of 1930 at Wikipedia – Retrieved February 5, 2015
8. Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970 – Retrieved February 5, 2015
9. Chilli Pepper Company: Carolina Reaper – Retrieved February 5, 2015
10. Photos of the 7 Pot Primo – Viewed February 5, 2015
11. Interview with Ed Currie – Retrieved February 5,2015
12. Carolina Reaper is the World’s Hottest Pepper – Retrieved February 5, 2015
13. From Pot to Hot – Retrieved February 5, 2015
14. Wildfire Chilli – Retrieved February 5, 2015
15. Naga Viper at Wikipedia – Retrieved February 5, 2015
16. Puckerbutt Pepper Company Pure All Natural Heat Est. 1968 – Retrieved February 5, 2015
17. Confirmed: Smokin Ed’s Carolina Reaper Sets New Record for Hottest Chili – Retrieved March 4, 2015

Puckerbutt Pepper Company® is a registered trade mark of PBPC, LLC
Puckerbutt Pepper Company Pure All Natural Heat Est. 1968® is a registered trade mark of PBPC, LLC

One thought on “Carolina Reaper Pepper, HP22B, HP22BNH, HP22BNH7

  1. […] ingredients in part list Carolina Reaper, Scorpion, Jolokia (Ghost), and Habanero peppers.  However, the sauce itself is hotter than any of […]

Comments are closed.