I derive great joy from eating foods that are much too spicy for my taste buds and stomach. Call me a masochist, but I always aspire to be like the host of Hot Ones (Sean Evans) but usually end up with tears streaming down my face while blubbering, “..but it’s so good!!!” I’m going to come right out and admit that it was my first Paqui One Chip Challenge and that the reaper bested me. But keep reading for snot, tears, and antacids.
Paqui’s challenge first launched in 2016, and it’s come back every year. Over that time, it’s transformed from what could be mistaken as Flamin’ Hot Doritos to an all-black, super edgy form. Talk about a glow up. The Carolina Reaper, the world’s hottest pepper, has been the inspo and main pepper since Day 1, but the added pizazz this year is scorpion pepper and Sichuan peppercorn. I’m very familiar with Sichuan peppercorn’s delightfully numbing qualities, but had never tried scorpion pepper before.
Upon opening the inner package housing the single tortilla chip, the first thing I noticed was the unpleasant pungent smell. It was unlike anything that had EVER passed through my olfactory epithelium. The sour smell paired with the visual of what looked like charcoal for seasoning added to my already mounting trepidation.
The chewing experience was awful – not because it was immediately incredibly spicy but mainly because of the crumbly, stale texture. It felt like I was trying to chew through a mouthful of dried red pepper flakes.
As for the heat, it was the type of spicy that renders any talking, let alone breathing, impossible without wincing and choking. It was a very agonizing and intense 15 minutes of snot, tears, and saliva – even with milk. However, it was followed by capsaicin-induced endorphins. What added to this feel-good was the slight tingle from the Sichuan peppercorn. It was like Wrigley’s 5 Gum commercial vibes, but with peppers. This deluded top-of-the-world feeling almost made me feel like I could take another chip!
I’m glad I didn’t have another one on hand because it took a turn for the worst. Once the endorphins dissipated, I was left with lingering pain under my tongue and gums (oddly specifically just around my molars). Furthermore, my taste buds were absolutely blitzed. Everything I ate that day tasted less flavorful than usual. The cherry on top came three hours later. I was minding my own business when a roiling stomach pain came to play. It took a max antacid dose before I could begin to function again.
My ultimate measure, though, is how spicy it comes out the other end. Sorry not sorry for the TMI, but it’s important! It was surprisingly tame compared to the entire pre- and during-experience. Thank goodness.
I don’t get to proudly declare myself as The Paqui One Chip Challenge Champ, but I think I held my own. Bring it on, 2021.
Purchased Price: $6.99
Size: .21oz (6g)
Purchased at: Plum Market
Rating: 10 out of 10 (for challenge factor, but 2 out of 10 for taste)
Nutrition Facts: (1 chip) 30 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 0 grams of added sugar, and 0 grams of protein.