Canadian Mike Jack now has four world records for eating hot peppers.

By Mike Pomranz
February 01, 2021
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For a minute there, Carolina Reaper pepper challenges were a legitimate phenomenon. Back in 2016, the Guinness World Records' world's hottest chili pepper title holder was even causing incidents on school grounds—pretty much the adult definition of a "phenomenon!" But even though Carolina Reaper madness inspired everything from spicy chocolates to spicy tortilla chips to spicy ice cream to spicy slushes, most of us didn't get so swept up in the hype that we made Carolina Reapers our "thing." But most of us are not Mike Jack of London, Ontario.

Credit: Catalin Lungu/Getty Images

Last week, Guinness World Records official Facebook page posted video of the spice-loving Canadian setting the record for "Fastest time to eat three Carolina Reaper chilies." He pulled off the feat in just 9.72 seconds back in November in his hometown. And before you suggest that maybe he cheated by selecting smaller peppers, please be aware that Guinness World Record specifies that "each chili had to weigh at least 5 grams (0.18 oz)."

Also, as you can see in the 3 minute clip, he does chew. And, uh, he also suffers significant pain and spends plenty of time with a giant bucket on his lap. Who says you can't have fun during a pandemic?

So how bad was it? "I actually didn't feel much heat until they were already down the hatch. I think most people would feel it right away, but I've developed a high tolerance for heat over the years," Jack told me. "Then my mouth felt like fire and kept filling up with spit. Tears filled my eyes, and I was choking on the heat in my throat. I was very happy that I beat the record since it took me 12 attempts, and I didn't want to try again, but I was hurting at the same time."

"After about 15 minutes I felt fine, but about an hour later, the 'cap cramps' started," he continued. "They're cramps you get from capsaicin, the chemical in the peppers that makes them feel hot. It feels like someone is squeezing and twisting your intestines. The cramps come in waves, but I was back to 100 percent about 12 hours later."

That might sound horrible to most people, but pain is all part of Jack's game: This latest achievement is actually his fourth chili-related Guinness World Record.

"It's something I realized I'm good at, and I want to see how far I can go with it. There is a huge misconception about hot peppers. People think they're dangerous, unhealthy and they'll burn your insides," he says. "The heat isn't real, though. It's just a chemical reacting with your pain receptors that tricks your brain into thinking your mouth or insides are on fire. Knowing that there isn't any true danger, I enjoy the battle of mind over matter and trying to deal with the pain. I've done a lot worse than three reapers too. My personal best is 56 in one sitting. Guinness World Records just does short, low-volume food records, though.

His other records are for "Fastest time to eat three Bhut Jolokia Chilis"—9.75 seconds set in January 2019; "Most Bhut Jolokia chilli peppers eaten in one minute"—97 grams in March 2019; and "Most Bhut Jolokia chilli peppers eaten in two minutes"—246 grams in February 2020. (I hate to be that guy, but the math would seem to show that Jack is already prepared to beat his own one minute Bhut Jolokia record.)

For those unfamiliar with these peppers, while the average Jalepeno has Scoville Heat Units (SHU) that can be measured in the four-digit thousands, the Bhut Jolokia registers at closer to 800,000 SHU and the record-setting Carolina Reaper was rated at an average of 1,641,183 SHU.

Meanwhile, if one video of Mike Jack eating insanely hot things isn't enough for you, the chili king has his own YouTube channel—Mike Jack Eats Heat!—where he uploads all sorts of spicy content on a regular basis.