There has been so many pepper eating videos in the last year that I can’t keep up with them all. Some show intense suffering, which I will admit are sometimes really funny to watch. Others show some rare chileheads that can handle that type of super duper heat intake. After a while who really wants to see someone who can eat a pepper and handle it? Sure there has to be some chest pumping. It isn’t easy, I know believe me. I ate a dried ghost chile to start off my website over 2 years ago, but I made a comic bit out of it to make it entertaining. The Moruga Scorpion video I made in January 2012 tore me up and it showed. I was not proud in anyway that I did it at the time. Now that there is a study on the pepper, making it the hottest chile pepper in the world, I can say proudly, “been there, done that!”
For years, Tony aka Darth Naga from the UK and Neil Smith from the HippySeed Company from Australia shared a modest following from YouTube fans on their pain journeys. There just weren’t many people doing what they were doing, and now they are lost in the constant flooding of YouTube with more and more super hot challenges. Some people do not do much of anything on the video outside of chewing. One word: Boring! If there was still some entertainment value in watching these it is lost on the never ending quantity that our Facebook Chilehead group has seen these past few months. There are some small attempts at levity here and there, but when is enough enough?
Which brings to me the topic in the header above. Do these type of pain-inflicting videos help or hurt this industry? Let us look at the helping part first. People love to be entertained and a form of this is watching people suffer and if there is attention being drawn to this community, then as they say, “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” Well I will say whomever came out with that saying is an idiot. Of course there are endless cases where bad publicity turns people off. Yet, is burning on video turning people off or is it leading them to look into super hot chiles and spicy products made with them even more than before? One could say that if you Google these super hot trends people might find the source of the peppers, as Jim Duffy of Refining Fire Chiles can tell you, profit can be made by these videos.
Jim has gladly sent off his super hot chiles to garner the internet’s great Google friendly attention. People eat his peppers on their videos, they mention Jim’s website, and the people out there that want to find these chiles now have the information they need to get them some. It works, and he has reaped the benefits of these videos. The more people that eat his chiles the more Google searches will come up. The more people click on those videos, the more people that will find Jim, and order up some of his super hots. Plant season is upon us and Jim can’t wait to start sales again anew.
Are there more benefits to these videos for the spicy product makers out there? Perhaps there is. When the Butch T record was recognized by Guinness Book of World Records, Heartbreaking Dawns and CaJohn’s Flavor & Fire immediate impact last year was felt with some of their Trinidad Scorpion products, some of the only products that were in the marketplace at the time. If people hear about these peppers via these type of challenge videos, then some of these people might find these spicy products and purchase them. Good thing indeed.
There are many people that go to shows looking for the hottest thing out there. Extract sauces are what they usually find, but now with the attention of the super hots, people see the name, and the words “World’s Hottest Pepper” on the label or sign and want to try some. I have seen CaJohn’s Execution Station in action at these shows, and there are lines to get the pain from these extremely hot sauces. Flavor? Sure there is, but pain drives some of the diehards out there looking to show off what they can handle. Most quiver and run away to fight another day. Those that can handle the heat often purchase some to share with others. Defcon Sauces has made a living out of torturing people at the shows, and the Creator, John Dilley truly gets that any attention is good attention, and if people are coming to his booth for pain, then others might look and want to see what the fuss is about.
He was profiled a few years back on the Travel Channel just for that reason.
With all that I said above, do these type of videos hurt the fiery food industry? The rationale is this- if the people out there that fear spicy food see stunts like these videos, then that is all they will think when it comes to anything spicy. No matter what level that spiciness might achieve they develop a phobia to even try anything. They are afraid of the hurt they will get from it, and there is very little you can say to get them off this narrow minded belief. Much like racism, the chileheads are typecast as pain junkies. Forget any value around flavor, in their eyes we all seek the pain. If you have any friends or family like this, then you know how true it is.
How can we convince these people otherwise when someone makes a YouTube glorifying this pain? There are those of us that laugh like I said. I know I enjoy it to some degree. Then again there are most people that shake their heads at the stupidity of it all. How dare they ruin food with that evil stuff? Hot sauce might as well have the poison skull and crossbones symbol on every label. The Surgeon General needs a warning on there too because it will kill you if you have too much.
You can say what you want about how the videos attract more chileheads, but are we on an island to ourselves with a population that only grows within said isle? Is there a driving force to create new chileheads? I for one share my favorite products with my friends, co-workers and family, but once you have been burnt, you will have to work extra hard to convince them not to trust you again. I take a considered effort to give mild to medium products to the newbies, and warn when it is above that line of no return. I want them to enjoy what I do with the smallest of buzzes not to scare them away. With my Feast Your Eyes Cooking Spicy Cooking Contest I try to show people through our contestants that you can enjoy the food you always have loved with a little heat added to it. Food is not ruined as they are so quick to believe.
So do super hot challenge videos help or hurt the fiery products industry? What is your opinion, I would love to know? Thank you for your time.