What Is Your Spice Tolerance?

On Saturday night, I embarked on an epic journey of endurance, pain, and survival with 8 friends: The Hot Ones Challenge.

Hot Ones, as you may know, is the primary show on the First We Feast YouTube channel in which host Sean Evans eats (and encourages the guest to eat) hot wings with an escalating array of sauces while having a conversation.

A friend who loves hot sauces has hosted a few gatherings like the one we attended on Saturday, but we haven’t participated because (a) we mostly eat vegetarian and (b) our spice tolerance is very low. But after hearing fun stories about the last gathering, we decided to participate this time.

We prepared in advance by eating something in advance (a tip from online research) and picking up ice cream to share (dairy is recommended as a counter to heat). The host was kind to provide baked cauliflower and fake “chicken” nuggets as alternatives to wings.

While I knew we weren’t there for delicious flavors, I actually enjoyed the first two levels of heat. There was a standard buffalo sauce with some chili flakes to start, then the barbacoa sauce shown on the left.

Then came the heat.

Despite the relatively low Scoville rating, the third sauce (I don’t know the name, but the bottle shown here appears to have the predator on it) completely numbed my tongue. I could barely talk, yet I could feel the burn.

From then on, every bite was accompanied by gulps of liquid, carrots in ranch dip, watermelon, and eventually ice cream. Some of the sauces really, really burned. I even tried not chewing some of them, but it didn’t matter–wherever the sauce touched my throat, it burned.

One of the main reasons we signed up for the event was because we heard that people start to act a little weird when they’re “high” on hot sauce. I wanted to see (and experience) this phenomenon firsthand.

The results met–if not exceeded–my expectations. It’s kind of a blur in my mind, but the thing that sticks out the most is that any semblance of social norms flew out the door. Megan, for example, scooped a heap of ice cream onto a spoon and just held it against her tongue. People were opening weeping. My nose was gushing fluid. Periods of prolonged silence were followed by a cacophony of noise and movement (we had a hard time staying seated after the halfway point).

We all tried the infamous Da Bomb sauce, which was brutal. Unlike the other sauces–some of which were just as hot, if not hotter–Da Bomb also tasted quite bad.

The effects of the sauces didn’t end at the gathering itself. I won’t go into the gory details, but I was VERY gassy that night, and my stomach really hurt the following morning. But I felt good enough to play disc golf at 9:00, and I didn’t notice any other issues while we were playing.

Overall, I’m glad I tried the Hot Ones Challenge–it was quite an experience! It’s definitely one that I’ll only do once, but now I know what it’s like.

Have you tried anything like this? What’s your spice tolerance?

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