As It Happens

Canadian extends hot streak by breaking his 4th hot pepper-eating world record

How many Carolina Reaper peppers can you eat in under 10 seconds? London, Ont.'s Mike Jack can down three of them — in record-breaking time, too. He spoke to host Carol Off about his Guinness record-breaking feat.

Mike Jack broke Guinness record for Carolina Reaper pepper-eating by more than a second

Mike Jack owns four of the eight Guinness records for hot pepper-eating. He broke his latest record — fastest time to eat three California Reaper peppers — last November. (Guinness World Records/Facebook)

How fast can you eat the world's hottest pepper? Mike Jack of London, Ont., can eat three of them in record-breaking time.

Jack ate three Carolina Reaper peppers in 9.72 seconds on Nov. 21, 2020. Guinness confirmed the world record last week. 

Jack's time is more than a second faster than the previous record-holder Jason McNabb's time of 10.95 seconds, which he set in 2014.

"I think it was maybe, like, about an hour later when it got, like, pretty rough in the tummy," Jack told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

Jack says the next Guinness record he wants to break is most jalapenos eaten in a minute. (Guinness World Records/Facebook)

Jack is far from a competitive pepper-eating rookie. In college, he says his roommates would dare each other to add hot sauce to non-spicy foods such as pizza. 

Later, one of his friends suggested they start a YouTube channel — Mike Jack Eats Heat — in which Jack would test his limits by trying various spicy foods.

"I just like spicy food, and I just kept getting spicier and spicier," he said. "And then I tried eating hot peppers, [and I] found out there was kind of like a following, or kind of like a cult community of people who eat peppers and other spicy challenges and stuff like that."

Eventually, Jack came across some Guinness World Records on pepper-eating and decided to take his game to the next level.

He broke his first world record in January 2019 by downing three Bhut Jolokia chili peppers, also known as ghost peppers, in 9.75 seconds. He followed that up with another record in March 2019 — the most Bhut Jolokia chili peppers eaten in one minute; and a third in February 2020 — the most Bhut Jolokia chili peppers eaten in two minutes.

"I realized I was good at it and I just kind of pushed myself as far as I could go," he said.

The world's hottest pepper

But when Jack challenged himself to down three Carolina Reapers in quick succession, he knew he was going to deal with a different beast entirely.

According to the Scoville scale, which measures chili pepper heat, the Carolina Reaper averages 1,641,183 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), making it the world's hottest pepper.

For context, the average jalapeno pepper scores between 2,500 to 8,000 SHU, according to Guinness.

Jack says the peppers were pretty hot, but his experience with spicy food put him in a good position to handle the challenge — and its effects.

"To be honest, I didn't even really feel the heat until it was all done and over with because I've kind of built up a tolerance for heat," he said. "I guess [for] most people, if you just touch them to your tongue, it's going to be pretty unbearable. But I've been at this for a while."

Though he's taken on the hottest pepper he could, Jack's not done challenging records just yet. He says there are four more pepper-eating records left to break, and his next challenge is most jalapeno peppers eaten in a minute.

"Jalapenos aren't as hot, but the record is a little bit harder than some of the other ones I have because there are a lot more people willing to eat jalapenos than ghost peppers or Carolina Reapers, so they have a pretty good record set," he said. 

"I think I can do it. I just need to train a little bit more and get a little bit faster."

Written by Mouhamad Rachini. Interview produced by Sonya Varma. 

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