All photos by Ethan Covey.

Steve Seabury, Lisa Seabury and Jimmy Carbone host the annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo with the city’s most insane pepperheads. But not every year plays host to a Guinness World Book-breaking record of the most Carolina Reapers (the world’s hottest pepper) eaten.

This year, Wayne Algenio smashed the record by housing 119 grams of the wicked mouth-burner. To see the video and photos of the event, follow the jump.

Steve Seabury and Lisa Seabury, owners of the NYC Hot Sauce Expo

Only seeing tasting it yourself can explain to you how intense eating 119 grams of Carolina Reaper is, but this video Brad and I made will show you the day’s events leading up to the climax of Wayne stuffing that many CRAZY HOT peppers down his throat.

To give you a frame of reference, you know those measly jalapenos you put on your Chipotle that give you a little sting? The Reaper is 300 times hotter.


The day’s events started out fairly calmly. Early attendees were trying sauces and their tongues weren’t on fire yet. Torchbearer Sauces represented with a man literally as a chile.

But then this guy appeared, and things got even more exciting. I started thinking a wrestling-in-hot-sauce thing was going to start happening.

I think this horror-beast would definitely win the hot sauce wrestling, right? I mean, due to not being mortal and all.

And then before we knew it, it was competition time. Spicy eating contests of every comfort food ensued on both days — pizza, meatballs, tacos, burritos!

Vendors were only too glad to explain their sauces, and hot sauce folks are colorful, fun and crazy, so we got descriptions like, “This sauce will make you feel like you need to run to the outhouse and before you even get there, it will set your butt on fire.” Got it.

But to be honest, hot sauce guests don’t fall far behind in being extreme or crazy.

On Saturday, awards were passed out for the Screaming MiMis, the NYC Hot Sauce Expo Awards for the best hot sauces. I was a judge this year and I still haven’t fully recovered from the pain — the memory of tattoo-level tongue pain lingers.

Culley’s (one of my personal favorites) Firewater won the XXX Hot Sauce category, and Ghost Scream‘s eponymous sauce won both the Hot category and the Grand World Champion award.

On our way out, I had a chance to chat with the maker of one of my other favorites, Brooklyn local Erica Diehl’s Queen Majesty. If you haven’t tried her tequila lime jalapeno, I suggest you run, not walk to your local hot sauce shop (for you, North Brooklyn, that’s Brooklyn Kitchen or Heatonist).

Are you afraid of the ghost pepper, or even the Carolina Reaper? Maybe you should enter the 2017 contest — just get 911 ready on your cell, as the contest has supposedly sent folks to the hospital.

Happy capsaicin tripping ’til next year!

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