Help me win this spicy proposal
April 6, 2008 5:52 PM   Subscribe

Need the hive mind to help me win this bet(if this is indeed possible)!! Made a bet with a buddy of mine that will make me a pretty penny if I can pull it off. The wager: I have to eat 30 slices of jalapeños in three minutes and then go an whole hour without eating or drinking anything but a can of Sprite. I just ate 12 jalapeños slices and lasted about 1 minute before I had to start eating and drinking to kill the burn. Have any of you tried this? What can I do to prepare? Can I actually win this? Thanks in advance for your help!
posted by boyinmiami to Grab Bag (44 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Chew them minimally. Swallow them as whole as you can.
posted by vernondalhart at 5:57 PM on April 6, 2008

Can you eat anything before you eat the peppers? If so, I would eat some yogurt, and drink milk and get a good coating in your mouth. That might give you a longer tolerance time since the milk will counteract the spiciness to some extent. You can almost eat half as it is, the milk might take you over the top!
posted by typewriter at 5:59 PM on April 6, 2008

Get your mouth thoroughly coated beforehand. Really any sort of fatty liquid or oil should work as a decent buffer between the peppers and your taste buds: the thicker the better.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:59 PM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Any stipulations on the peppers being raw/cooked/pickled?
posted by slavlin at 6:02 PM on April 6, 2008

The Sprite, by virtue of its water-based composition, will only make the burn worse.
Replace soda in can with dairy, like heavy cream.
This will coat and block the pain receptors inside your mouth and throat.
Don't cheat:
The second before the clock starts and you take your first bite, chug some whole milk or cream so as to coat everything. Keep as much residual liquid in more mouth as long as you can, then start gobbling.
Third Way:
Don't do this, any of this.
This is madness.
posted by Dizzy at 6:03 PM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ice. Or so I've heard.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:08 PM on April 6, 2008

Acclimation! Jalapenos aren't really that spicy compared to other peppers. Put yourself of a pepper regimen, starting mild, working up to hot. I believe that really spicy food can kill off taste buds altogether. (They grow back in a day or two). So you could also get some Insanity Sauce the day of the bet, and take as much as you can stand an hour or two ahead of time.
posted by Eddie Mars at 6:08 PM on April 6, 2008

Have any of you tried this?

Yes, I did this a number of years ago.

Previously I had read Andrew Weil's essay on eating chilis. I got my hands on some dried "Hontaka" peppers, and indeed one could experience a positive altered state of consciousness by eating chilis. At this point my tolerance for very hot food took a major leap, and today it's almost impossible for food to be too "hot" for me.

I entered a chili eating contest here in Seattle at one of the local Mexican restaurants. They brought out a place of Jalapenos (which are not particularly hot), and the goal was to see how many we could eat in a minute. Frankly it wasn't much of a test of "heat" tolerance, more of a how-much-food-can-you-stuff-down-in-a-short-period-of-time thing.

Yes, I won, but as I say, it wasn't much of a contest.

So I'd say you can easily win your contest if you practice first. You must increase your "heat" tolerance. Read Weil's essay, and take it to heart. Seriously. If you don't get your mind right, you won't be able to handle it. Then get fresh chilli's. Dried will work, but are much yuckier than fresh. Start with the mild ones, like Jalapenos, then work up to Habaneros.

You can do it, easily.
posted by Tube at 6:11 PM on April 6, 2008 [9 favorites]

yeah slices are easy. just don't chew - swallow those bad boys. It shouldn't be too bad.
posted by bigmusic at 6:13 PM on April 6, 2008

Jalapenos aren't really that spicy compared to other peppers.

I would disagree - they're a different kind of spicy. Although I eat Thai Rooster chili sauce as though it were ketchup, and go through a large bottle of Tabasco a month, I just cannot eat jalapenos. On natchos they're okay, but eating them raw is just torture.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:16 PM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Swallowing candle melted wax worked for Homer Simpson...

An easier (and less waxy) answer is to buy the jalepenos at Whole Foods since they sell the least spicy hot peppers I've ever used.
posted by foodgeek at 6:32 PM on April 6, 2008

It may help to know that even though they hurt you, the peppers aren't doing any real damage. You may be in pain, but you're not actually being injured: it's just the capsaicin acting on your nerve endings. Keep eating, in the knowledge that you'll be fine. Waiting that hour afterwards is gonna suck, though, no doubt.
posted by mumkin at 6:36 PM on April 6, 2008

can you remove the seeds? or at least some of them when you slice them up?
posted by nimsey lou at 6:37 PM on April 6, 2008

I have also heard that alcohol kills the heat. Spike your sprite.
posted by nimsey lou at 6:39 PM on April 6, 2008

Eat them all at once. Fast. Chew as little as possible.

The pain, which (IMO) would be RELATIVELY slight as I eat maybe 20 at a stretch in a few minutes, will grow over about a 1 minute period, then begin to decline to managable levels.

Discipline is what you will need to avoid fluids.

Like eating a light bulb, this may, as they say, hurt twice.

Good luck!

(I wish I could get someone to make ME a bet like this. Damn!)
posted by FauxScot at 6:41 PM on April 6, 2008

Things that you learn in the ER: Don't cheat by getting an OTC mouth spray with a numbing agent in it (benzocaine, lidocaine) and swishing it before the contest. Since you can't feel your tongue/mouth you're likely to bite into them badly or choke when a gag reflex fails. Then there's the side effects...
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:44 PM on April 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

Not only that, but have a bunch of bread in your mouth that you haven't swallowed. Then eat the peppers and swallow them all down together.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:53 PM on April 6, 2008

You didn't mention what happened a few hours after you had the dozen jalapeños, but if you're gonna have more than that, be sure you have asbestos toilet paper. Alternately, you could try stuffing yourself with whole wheat bread to absorb the capsaicin and help you get it out without a lot of fuss.

Try to have the skin side toward your tongue, and keep the slices on the sides of your tongue- the sides are less sensitive than the tip and center.

And how skinny are the slices? if they're thin it's easier. If they're halves or quarters it might get a little sticky. You'll have to chew some to make sure they don't get stuck.

Take the seeds off if you can.

As for the sprite, see if you can have ice in it. You'll feel best having a flat drink with ice chips floating around in your mouth. Small sips every few minutes, swishing the ice.

I hope it's worth it, man.
posted by lysdexic at 7:07 PM on April 6, 2008

Capsaicin is what makes jalapeños spicy. It will dissolve in oily compounds (see Treatment after exposure), which is why people above have recommended whole milk or cream. This means you can use olive oil, butter, or anything reasonably fatty. Can you replace the Sprite with milk? Can you coat your mouth with butter before the bet?

Ever wondered why Indian restaurants served lassi? This is why.
posted by stereo at 7:10 PM on April 6, 2008

skip the sprite altogether. water-based liquids just spread the burn around. know exactly where the milk in your fridge is. if possible, have a large glass waiting.
posted by softlord at 7:19 PM on April 6, 2008

I don't really have any tips, but I'm reqesting, nay, demanding a MetaTalk update if you actually do it.
posted by Mach5 at 7:45 PM on April 6, 2008

I don't know what coats the inside of your mouth best, but definitely jam a glob of vaseline up your butt beforehand.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:52 PM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Eddie Mars is correct. Eating jalapenos isn't a challenge or a chore, if you're the type who enjoys seriously spicy food. Habaneros, well OK, then we're talking about a high level of difficulty- you might have trouble even keeping those down. Practice. Embrace the burn. If you can get the things down, well, the rest is all in your head.
posted by rxrfrx at 7:55 PM on April 6, 2008

One drunken night a friend of mine made about a half dozen "shots" of homemade Habanero chilli sauce, topped up with vodka. everyone slammed them down, and everbody burned...except me, cos I threw it back as far down my throat as I could, not much chilli hit my tongue. I could feel a wonderful fire in my belly for about an hour afterward, but my mouth was relatively burn free.

But god damn it hurt the next day. There is no avoiding that.
posted by robotot at 7:59 PM on April 6, 2008

Can you take a swig of milk, swish it around and spit it out? Because that's what I'd do. Depends on whether you want to debate technicalities, but it's not really breaking the rules.

According to Alton Brown, it's the casein in milk that does the trick, not the fat.
posted by O9scar at 8:50 PM on April 6, 2008

Have this guy be your secret body double.
posted by donpedro at 8:53 PM on April 6, 2008

I agree with the above posters that this isn't really that hard. If you have some time, you can definitely acclimate yourself, because in the grand scheme of things, jalapenos aren't very spicy.

Drink some milk beforehand, try to avoid the peppers touching your lips and chew them as little as possible.
posted by atomly at 8:53 PM on April 6, 2008

Freeze the Sprite solid. Swish with oil beforehand. Rest blissfully frozen Sprite ice on tongue afterwards.
posted by Addlepated at 9:43 PM on April 6, 2008

Also, take a Zantac beforehand.
posted by Addlepated at 9:44 PM on April 6, 2008

I used to eat whole pickled jalapeños for fun (they're tasty). I think 30 slices ought to be easy. Prepare with a good slug of cream, chew minimally and when you're done curl up into the foetal position or something else comfortable until the pain subsides ( reckon 15 minutes but will seem like 3 days ;-) ). A hot water bottle applied to the mouth area may also help. oh if you got a good bit drunk beforehand that might help dull the pain too.

One handy tip - you can increase your tolerance for spicy by mixing parsley with your food. Chilli, parsley (lots) scrambled egg is a great recipe for this.
posted by singingfish at 11:23 PM on April 6, 2008

The seeds contain most of the capsaicin, and the placenta (the fibrous membrane) that attaches them to the flesh contains most of the rest. If you can somehow de-seed the slices or get slices with few seeds, this is an easy job. (The smaller diameter slices, i.e. from the tips, have no seeds in them.) Having to eat the seeds from 30 slices, which is like 4 or 5 peppers, is going to be a little painful, but a lot of people chase this much spice just for fun.

You might try desensitizing your mouth with hourly Tabasco rinses for the few days before your contest. You can definitely get used to capsaicin's effects.

If you do have to eat a lot of seeds, swallow the seeds without chewing them and be ready to have some burning diarrhoea later on.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:27 PM on April 6, 2008

What most people said. I'm a spicy-food lover and jalapenos are generally low on the challenge scale.

I would prepare mainly by acclimation. Start eating spicy foods exclusively, building up from one-alarm to five-alarm to eleven-alarm as you go. Tabasco is a decent sauce, but look for the specialty hot sauces with scary names like Devil's Spawn or Burn Burn Burning Ring of FIre (made up, but you get the idea). Throw some on your burgers or slather some ham cubes in mac and cheese and so forth. A lot of the reactions to spiciness I see are more in the realm of surprise. Having gotten used to more spiciness than 9 out of 10 people can apparently bear, I have proven to myself that it's mainly psychological. Treat the capsaicin burn as a roller coaster ride, something to look forward to, not something to be endured. When I pop a jalapeno in my mouth, I taste the chile itself.

I mean, right now, I'm thinking 30 jalapenos? Yum!. In reality it would still probably be a challenge for me to eat 30 in a row straight, and the hour afterward would be difficult, but I have no doubt I could do it. That's what ten years of considering myself a spiciness maven will do.
posted by dhartung at 3:01 AM on April 7, 2008

If you're sufficiently unused to hot food, milk etc won't be much help. Tackle some vindaloos etc for a week or two and you won't have a problem with a few jalapeños.
posted by Mocata at 3:45 AM on April 7, 2008

If they're raw, buy the darkest ones you can find. They are the least hot.
posted by tamitang at 4:19 AM on April 7, 2008

Before the gig, rinse your mouth with one of those really, really strong numbness-inducing mouthwashes. Put a few at a time on the back of your tongue, and swallow.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:51 AM on April 7, 2008

A delicious way to acclimate is to make a jalapeno pickle and get used to eating that. Just fry up masses of fresh chilis with garlic, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, salt and anything else that takes your fancy, then pile it into a clean jar and add oil to cover it. I eat it on bread like tapenade.

nthing all those who say this probably isn't going to be that difficult if you acclimate.
posted by unSane at 5:09 AM on April 7, 2008

Jalapenos are great. Delicious, nice and sweet. You should be able to do this.

Make sure you practise by eating some a few times a day, just to build up a bit of a tolerance.

And don't even think about touching the Sprite. You're better off just being thirsty for an hour.
posted by robcorr at 5:21 AM on April 7, 2008

I've done this - it's actually how I built up my heat tolerance, quite a while back. It was something of an ego test, whereby I didn't want to look like a wimp in front of my friends.

Eat them as fast as you can, and then sit there, not talking, not doing much for the next minute or so. After the first two minutes, I got used to the heat, and didn't drink the water when it was offered.

The first two minutes are the critical ones. Enjoy!
posted by Herman Hermanson at 8:02 AM on April 7, 2008

I would disagree - they're a different kind of spicy. Although I eat Thai Rooster chili sauce as though it were ketchup, and go through a large bottle of Tabasco a month, I just cannot eat jalapenos. On natchos they're okay, but eating them raw is just torture.

KokRyu! I've never met anybody who felt the same way about jalapeños as I!
posted by skryche at 8:32 AM on April 7, 2008

Miami, hmmm? Had a visitor from Florida a while back who was in a panic about eating chilies. Look, they won't injure you -- is there some sort of strange folklore about chilies going around in Florida? Eat as many jalapenos as you can, as often as you can to prepare for this. You'll get used to them.
posted by yohko at 9:09 AM on April 7, 2008

The only way I know to make sure the capsaicin is washed off with the Sprite is to liberally coat your mouth with salt. This is supposed to help dissolve it in liquids lacking in fat or alcohol, but Googling just now failed to turn up any scientific proof of that. Perhaps it's an urban legend in Mexico, but it seems to be pretty effective.
posted by Cobalt at 10:13 AM on April 7, 2008

Anbesol. Get the maximum strength version (20% benzocaine) and coat the inside of your mouth with it before chowing down. It should wear off right about the time you collect your winnings.
posted by tjvis at 10:52 AM on April 7, 2008

The only way I know to make sure the capsaicin is washed off with the Sprite is to liberally coat your mouth with salt. This is supposed to help dissolve it in liquids lacking in fat or alcohol, but Googling just now failed to turn up any scientific proof of that.

As a chemist, (or at least someone with a chemistry degree, if not a practicing chemist), I can think of no reason why that ought to be the case. In fact, adding salt makes many substances that are marginally water-soluble less so. I'm going with urban legend, possibly bolstered by placebo effect, on this one.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:00 PM on April 7, 2008

Also: this google search may help
posted by lalochezia at 2:34 PM on April 7, 2008

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