As I write this, I have a Bhut-Pepper Vertigo candy ($16, two-pack), made with the world’s five hottest peppers, including the Bhut Jolokia and the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, on my tongue. It is hot. It is hot enough to send huge waves of adrenaline rushing through my body. It might be rash, but at this moment, the things I’d rather have causing that sensation are: an axe-wielding murderer hot on my heels; a police officer in the rear-view mirror during my weekly cocaine run; a Maury Povich pregnancy test reveal wherein I may be the father. It is making my tongue more uncomfortable than a Rutgers basketball player at practice. It is hot enough to make my nose run freely. I want to take the candy out, very, very badly, but I won’t, because I’m desperately trying to understand the appeal of this ridiculously, painfully hot torture. I am somewhat concerned about my health.
Soon afterward, I took it out. Even then the pain didn’t stop; in fact, it continued to get worse for about five minutes, even with the help of soy milk (I’m lactose intolerant), which brought temporary relief until I swallowed, after which the stabbing pain in my mouth came rushing back. It’s worth noting that there were about three seconds of tasty sweetness before all hell broke loose in my mouth, meaning Vertigo does technically earn its title of “candy”. To be entirely fair, I’m not the hardiest of men — but it’s pretty clear that anyone who enjoys this stuff is a few peppers short of a peck. It’s also obvious that enjoyment isn’t necessarily the point, and that I am apparently far from a spiciness thrill seeker.