Man eats hot pepper, burns hole in esophagus

Technically Incorrect: Some challenges go too far. Ghost peppers can turn you into a ghost. Don't be this man.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Enlarge Image

Just looking at the ghost pepper makes my throat contract.

Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Food has become such a central part of not merely life, but also the entertainment business.

It's no longer just about eating. It's about -- as marketing people love to say -- experiencing.

Recently, various parts of me contracted as I wrote about the chef who chose to eat the world's hottest noodles and claimed they made him deaf.

Now here's a man who challenged his throat to a battle with the ghost pepper.

Indeed, let's drift to an academic case report published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine that's entitled: "Esophageal Rupture After Ghost Pepper Ingestion."

The authors, all from the Bay Area, say that a 47-year-old man entered a pepper-eating contest. His challenge was to eat a burger that enjoyed a ghost pepper purée.

He ended up in ER with "severe abdominal and chest pain subsequent to violent retching and vomiting," says the report.

And then there was his esophagus. It had endured a tear measuring 2.5 cm (almost an inch).

The doctors wrote about it because they want to warn fellow ER specialists. Patients who come in and say they've had a spicy meal and are in pain might have done more damage than first appears.

Ghost peppers enjoy more than 1 million Scoville units, twice the strength of a habanero pepper.

Ann Arens, one of the report's authors, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. However, she told The Washington Post that it wasn't the pepper that actually caused the rupture.

It was the sheer force behind the man's retching and vomiting.

Naturally, YouTube is full of people attempting the same challenge. One pair of testers recommends ice cream as an immediate salve for the burning.

As for the man with the perforated esophagus, he spent 23 days in hospital.

I wonder if he won the contest.