You’ve read in this space many times of Hot Pepper ‘Challenges’ put on by restaurateurs as publicity stunts. Just search for ‘crying game’ on this blog. Now, we’ve got word of a new Ghost Pepper ‘poisoning’ that was anything but ‘harmless fun’. MDs confirm it can literally kill you!!
A 47-year-old man who preferred to remain anonymous took up the challenge, at a California restaurant that also preferred to remain nameless, and ordered the Ghost Pepper Burger. That’s a large Burger topped with Ghost Pepper Purée. Shortly after wolfing it down, he started drinking water – lots of water. Six large glasses of water, in fact. And then he started retching and vomiting and was conveyed to the Emergency Room of the nearest hospital. There, they found he had a collapsed lung and a ruptured esophagus! As well, vomit had leaked into his chest cavity from the rupture. That, MDs assert, can cause deadly infections.
The key to the whole thing is the ruptured esophagus: the Ghost Pepper goo had eaten a 2.5 cm / 1 in. hole in his downpipe! The man underwent emergency surgery and spent the next 23 days in hospital. Even then, he was sent home with a gastric tube in place.
The ruptured esophagus thing is considered very rare. But not so rare that it doesn’t have an official name: Boerhaave syndrome. and, according to the article I read in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, it has a high mortality rate.
The Ghost Pepper is the hottest known Hot Pepper with a Scoville Rating of 1 to1.4 million heat units. A Jalalpeño clocks in at a mere 5,000 Scoville units by comparison. Why would anyone want to eat something like that in the first place? A British pub owner bragged, once, that he’d sent at least 5 people to hospital with his Ghost Pepper challenge. That’s just nuts. But it underlines the desperation vendors are feeling – and expressing as Menu Madness – in the Fast Food and Pub Grub sectors as severe overcrowding continues and it becomes harder and harder to differentiate your eatery from all the others.
My advice? Just say ‘No’ to the Ghost Pepper Challenge. You only live once.