Ballantyne Magazine

Winter 2018

Ballantyne Magazine covers news, events, real estate, restaurants, shopping, health, schools and business in the upscale Ballantyne Area of Charlotte, NC.

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W H O K N E W ? Hot Shot PuckerButt holds world record for hottest chile pepper By Vanessa Infanzon | Photos by Ray Sepesy A ccording to Ed Currie, he wasn't the ideal son. His rowdy and wild behavior kept him from taking most things seriously. His parents were sure his lifestyle would mean an early death, a thought that didn't sit well with him. So at age 18, he decided to find out how he could increase his odds of living a long life. He found that people living at the equator generally had a lower incidence of cancer and heart disease than in the U.S., and that one reason could be the hot peppers they ate. So Currie started to grow and breed chile peppers. The experience set the stage for Currie's Fort Mill-based PuckerButt Pepper Company and his pepper, Smokin' Ed's Carolina Reaper, the winner of the 2013 and 2018 Guin- ness World Record for the hottest chile pepper. Born in New York, Currie grew up in Pennsylvania and later lived in Michigan. Hot peppers have been a focus most of his adult life. "I made hot stuff through the '80s and '90s," says Currie, now 55 and living in Tega Cay. "I grew pepper plants; I bred pepper plants. I'd make hot sauce and say, 'Here, try this.'" His pepper hobby eventually turned into a business. Currie worked at First Union during the day and took care of his plants and made hot sauce at night. His approximately 800 plants included ones from around the world, including cayenne, ghost and 7 Pot. At first, Currie gave his hot sauces away, but in 2002 when he needed to start covering his costs, he began to sell his sauces at farmers markets. Two years later, he cross-pol- linated nine different peppers to create the Carolina Reaper. "I ate it and it knocked me to my knees," he says. He called two friends and asked them to try it. When they both threw up, he knew he had something hot. Hot peppers are measured Ed Currie's pepper hobby eventually turned into a business. BALLANTYNE WINTER 2018 - 2019 87 Who Knew? Courtesy of Old English District

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