Before you enter a Ghost Pepper food challenge, bear in mind: the heat doesn’t stop with your mouth or your last bite. Almost two weeks ago, a guy in Hermosa Beach, California found that out the hard way when he took the Habanero Sam’s Burrito Challenge at Amigos Tacos.
The victim, er, challenger, was a guy named John. He came in, signed the restaurant’s legal waiver for the challenge, and got to munching on the burrito. It wasn’t large in size, but it packed a punch of pure, concentrated evil. Not normal, James-Bond-villain-type evil, but more of a Hannibal Lector type. The sort that you know deep down is bad, but its surface charm draws you in and doesn’t let up for two sequels.
John had fifteen minutes to finish his lava-filled tortilla. Success meant a $50 payday. Six minutes after he signed the waiver and sat down, John was 50 bucks richer. He was done with the Ghost Pepper-laden burrito, but it wasn’t done with him.
John won the first round, but by this time his eyes gushed tears, and he was drooling big time. The heat was relentless. Finally, he acknowledged it as the bigger man by asking Amigos Tacos owner Sam Habra to call an ambulance. The docs at the hospital couldn’t really do all that much because there wasn’t anything to fix. They probably got a good laugh at his expense, though.
Having said all of that, I looked around for a few more places where you can lock wills in the culinary arena with Ghost Pepper-laced food. I’m certain there are more and I’d love to hear your tales of Ghost Pepper daring-do.
Sam’s Habanero Burrito Challenge
Where: Amigos Tacos (3216 Manhattan Avenue Suite B, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254)
What: Ghost Pepper and Habanero mouth death shrouded in an innocent looking tortilla
The Prize: 50 bucks
That guy who went to the hospital? He was one of the first to take this challenge. It made the LA TV news, thus causing other people with no idea what they were doing to step out of the woodwork and give the burrito a go. None of them finished.
Inferno Soup Challenge
Where: Nitally’s Thai-Mex Cuisine (2462 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, FL;  321-8424)
What: Thai chicken soup with long noodles, bean sprouts, carrots, and cabbage. Oh, and about a pint of crushed hot peppers, including Ghost Peppers, seeds and all.
The Prize: $150
By using a pint of crushed peppers in the soup, Nitally’s created a product that slams other soups around the octagon and steals their milk money while hitting on their girlfriends. Tom Scherberger of the St. Petersburg Times wrote a good story about the Inferno Soup, which you can find here.
Fire in Your Hole Challenge
Where: Munchies 420 Cafe (6639 Superior Avenue, Sarasota, FL,  929-9893, www.munchies420cafe.com)
What: 10 Ghost Peppered Fire in Your Hole hot wings
The Prize: A free T-shirt so you can share your pain and victory with the world
You get 20 minutes to fill the hole in your face with these burning embers. That may not seem like a high price to pay for a T-shirt, but you pay again later—after all, what goes in, must come out.
Have a Ghost story of your own to share? Email us here and we’ll publish the winning tale of fiery woe.