A London, Ont. man who recently snapped up his third Guinness World Record for speed-eating some of the hottest peppers in the world says that these challenges “make your body feel like it’s on fire.”
Mike Jack smashed the previous Guinness World Record for eating the most ghost peppers in two minutes last weekend, when he chomped his way through 246 grams worth at the Heatwave Hot Sauce Expo in London.
The previous record had been held by a man from Italy who ate 146 grams.
Video taken immediately after the record-making meal shows Jack wiping his damp face with a towel.
“I didn’t know if I could even beat it!” he says. “I can’t even think right now.”
He told CTV News Channel that he feels “great about winning the title,” because it puts him one step closer to his goal: “Collect as many Guinness Records for eating hot peppers as I can.”
So how does one develop the palate to take on these types of challenges?
For Jack, it all started in college.
He hadn’t eaten much in the way of spicy food or sauces before then, but after being dared by his friends to try out hot sauce, he said he discovered a brand new love.
“Eventually, my food would be drenched in it, so I’d have to search for hotter and hotter sauces,” he said.
When a friend approached him to start a YouTube channel, they decided to capitalize on the trend of YouTube videos featuring challenges involving hot peppers.
“That was the first time I ate an actual hot pepper on its own, not in sauce.”
The channel, Mike Jack’s Hot Reviews, revolves around Jack taking on spicy pepper challenges and reviewing different hot sauces.
He said he worked up to eating eight Carolina Reapers -- which is the current hottest pepper in the world, although the ghost pepper once held that honour -- “without too much trouble,” due to his years of hot saucing it. That was when he decided to research bigger challenges.
He said he held the record at one point for the most Carolina Reaper peppers eaten after he scarfed down 30 in one sitting. With his pepper eating resume built up, he started looking into Guinness Records.
Many Guinness eating records are speed-based, which added a new element of challenge for Jack. In January of 2019, he received the Guinness World Record for the fastest time to eat three ghost peppers, at just under 10 seconds, and in March of 2019, he attained his second world record by eating 97 grams of ghost peppers in one minute.
But just because ghost peppers are no longer considered the hottest in the world doesn’t mean it’s easy to get one down.The vegetables are 400 times hotter than regular Tabasco sauce, and clock in at 1 million Scoville Heat Units.
Jack described eating a ghost pepper as “a real sensation of heat.”
The pepper doesn’t cause any actual burning, so it’s not dangerous to eat in that sense, but the brain reacts to reject the heat anyway, he said.
“Your body’s going to do whatever it can just to cool yourself down,” he explained. “So you’re going to sweat. My mouth just filled up with spit, I had tears, I had mucus coming from my nose, pretty much everything that your body would do just to try to put out the flames, I guess.”
It was Jack’s second try at this particular record. He’d been 20 grams short the last time he tried, at a similar event in Hamilton.
“I knew I could handle the heat, cause I’ve done a lot of crazy challenges in the past as far as heat goes,” he said. “I’ve built up quite a tolerance over the years, but for this here, I really had to concentrate on speed.”
To prepare, he said he timed himself eating as many peppers as he could every single night for two weeks leading up to the event.
“I trained harder than I’ve trained for anything in my life before,” he said.
Up to the wire, the crowd watching his two-minute attempt chanted his name and cheered. After his victory, when he was told he beat the record by 100 grams, all he could do was smile.
“If I did beat it, I was thinking maybe 20 grams, but … That’s crazy, man.”
With files from CTV News London