The Pursuit of the Hottest Possible Food

Fact: Everyone knows some guy who brags about eating super-hot food.

“Hot peppers are nothing! I can brush my teeth with hotter stuff. Even my oatmeal is spicier!”

I have a few of these guys in my neighborhood. They would taste some of my home-made salsa made from my wife’s garden-grown produce, and no matter how many hot peppers I added, they would give me that same humblebrag, “this tastes great, but it’s not very hot.”

In 2013, I made it a personal goal to defeat these arrogant pepper eaters. I wanted to watch them cry. You can read about my first attempt on my Facebook page here.

I like hot salsa, and for me this was way too hot. It was delicious, but it burned going in, and burned again going out a day later. My family dubbed it Heck Sauce, named after Hecate, the Greek goddess of Fire and Sorcery. (Not the Mormon “Oh my Heck!”)

But my effort was in vain. The braggers said, “that was delicious, but I’ve had hotter.”

Challenge Accepted

I wasn’t going to give up. I made several more attempts over the following years. I used more and more hot peppers. I bought specially-bred super-hot peppers. I found ways to condense the pepper heat into the salsa. Each version was hotter than the previous one. Finally I made Heck Sauce v11 out of a large quantity of record-breaking hot peppers, including Carolina Reapers, Naga Vipers, and Trinidad Scorpions. I dried and powdered them first so I could condense more hot peppers into each bite. It was way too hot for me to eat even the tiniest drip on a tortilla chip.

Finally my friends admitted their defeat! Heck Sauce v11 was the hottest thing they had ever eaten, and it was finally too hot. Victory!

Could something be even hotter?

But it was a hollow victory. Had I really taken salsa it as far as it could go?

I researched capsaicin, how it worked in a human mouth, how it was bound up in hot peppers, and how to get it out chemically. It took a couple of months to use a chemical process to extract pure capsaicin from about 40 pounds of very hot peppers. (You can read about the process here.) I ended up with a Mason jar half full of spicy liquid death.

Fun fact: the human tongue can’t tell the difference between pure capsaicin and something that’s only 20% capsaicin. So I used the stuff I extracted to make Heck Sauce v12 with a ratio of about 70% flavorful stuff (tomatoes, onions, garlic, etc) and 30% of the pure capsaicin.

This could possibly be the hottest food that can be made. I won’t touch the stuff.

I filled a bunch of 4-ounce sample jars and sold them to my neighbors and Facebook friends for just enough to cover the cost. They sold out quickly.

What people have said

Reactions have been varied. I’ve had all sorts of stories sent to me about coworkers who bragged that they could eat it but were defeated by this stuff. One family bought two of these and added Heck Sauce to everything, and it was gone in less than a week. Another friend said he liked to touch the tines of a fork into the Heck Sauce and then he stirred that into a pot of soup to make it nice and spicy.  “This 4oz jar is going to last years,” he said.

At a neighborhood Halloween party, I put about two ounces of Heck Sauce into a crock pot with three cans (six cups) of chili, and I put a big warning sign on the chili. It was an instant hit with the teenagers, who all enjoyed watching each other suffer eating just a tiny bit. One guy had to sit on the floor for about an hour after eating a spoonful of it, trying not to vomit. Yet interestingly, 30-year-old guy was able to eat a whole bowl of the chili without a problem, and went back for more. I told him he was broken, and he agreed, but thought it was “nice and spicy.”

A Facebook friend bought some and challenged his son to eat a spoonful of it and filmed him eating and then the subsequent suffering. . . and he uploaded the video to YouTube. He deleted the video a few days later. Probably because he didn’t want to be charged with child endangerment.

The Future

After achieving the hottest possible food, I’ve satisfied my need to pursue this for now, and I have no plans to make more. I’ve had a few people ask to let them know if I make another batch. Email me if you want me to notify you when I do.

Update Jan 12, 2018:

Heck Sauce has gone commercial. Our project caught the attention of a retail tycoon who is working to take it to store shelves. It has an improved recipe (thicker, but the same heat and taste), produced in a commercial kitchen and packaging facility, and has awesome new branding. You can buy it on Amazon, and eventually you’ll find it on store shelves.

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