Half-pound burger topped with four chile peppers — jalapeño, serrano, habanero, and the infamous ghost chile. During his challenge with the infamous Four Horsemen Burger at Chunky's in San Antonio on Man vs Food, Adam Richman said, “One bite in and the four chiles on the Four Horsemen Burger are already a billion times hotter than I anticipated. This burger is more than spicy. It’s diabolical.” Richman, though, would become just the fourth person ever to finish the challenge.
The Unvegan’s Zack Colman writes about his self-imposed anguish with the fiery wings at Hoagies and Wings in Los Angeles, “Dear God. Fire! And not just my tongue, but mostly the back of my throat. Somehow these wings sent their potency to the back of my throat, preventing me from speaking to anyone more than five inches from my face.”
Brick Lane’s menu describes this dish as, “An excruciatingly hot curry, more pain and sweat than flavor!” and requires a verbal disclaimer shielding the restaurant from liability. The Daily Meal’s own Arthur Bovino conquered this challenge in early 2009:
Minute One: Feel the burn!
Minute Two: You start to tear. Not cry, but tear.
Minute Four: First nose blow. Intense burn. Pain in throat.
Minute Six: Intense lip tingle. Naan helps, lassi too.
10 Minutes: Start questioning your approach. Was finishing all the meat first such a good idea?
12 Minutes: Eating with a clenched fist.
14 Minutes: Queasy stomach. Rice helps mop up sauce.
16 Minutes: First actual tear.
23 Minutes: The last bite, with the chile garnish. Painful.
East Coast Grill’s menu lists this dish with six bombs on the side, with their fuses lit to signify the explosive effect these wings will have on your insides after eating them doused in "inner beauty hot sauce and banana-guava ketchup."
What is inner beauty hot sauce you ask? According to Serious Eats, chef Chris Schlesinger’s recipe includes “five pounds of Scotch Bonnet chiles, one gallon of yellow mustard (preferably the cheap stuff), plus molasses, brown sugar, honey, and spices.”
For all of their dishes, Pearl Cafe in St. Louis, Mo., does a spicy challenge where you have to beat Levels 25-100 in increments of 25. Of the more than 400 people who have embarked on the challenge, only 21 have conquered it. In addition to the ghost peppers which all Level 100 dishes contain, the Pearl’s Fried Rice — which is chicken- and shrimp-based — has an extra kick from kachai peppercorn. If you complete the challenge, your meal is free, you receive a T-shirt that says “King of Spice,” and you will be forever immortalized on Pearl’s Facebook page. Be careful, though, because failures are also documented.
The Korean Suicide Burrito at John’s Snack & Deli in San Francisco, made with Chinese, Mexican, and Korean peppers, almost turned food blogger Foodysseus into an infant: “I can only barely begin to describe this harrowing experience without succumbing to my most heartfelt desire to curl up into a fetal position and cry for my mommy. Each bolus was like a pitch-soaked rock from a flaming catapult assaulting the failing fortress of my constitution. My nose ran, my eyes watered, my pores leaked sweat, and my esophagus had somehow learned to strangle itself.”
Bushido boasts a challenge in which poor souls must eat 10 of these habanero and black nori-infused rolls, the catch being that each roll is a new level of heightened intensity. Charleston City Paper’s Jeff Allen describes his friend Ed’s experience with the challenge: “'Every level was a little different,’ he says. 'After level five or six, the pain was very intense for about six minutes. At level eight and up, the pain was intense for over 10 minutes and I had trouble hearing and my eyes watered. There isn't really a hot sauce out there to compare it to. It was different.’"
The Nashville Style Hothouse Chicken at Peaches Hothouse in New York City is seasoned with more cayenne — and other spices — than should be allowed by law. "The extra-hot chicken will kick you in your face and make you cry," promises co-owner Ben Grossman. "There's a line where spicy is too much and this chicken crosses that line."
“Please understand that this soup is not a joke,” warns the menu at Nitally’s in St. Petersburg, Florida, above its famous and appropriately named “Inferno Soup.” The soup includes a handful of different chiles, including Carolina Reaper (2.2 million SHU), Moruga Scorpion (2 million SHU), Trinidad Scorpion Butch T (1.4 million SHU), Naga Viper (1.3 million SHU), and Naga Bhut Jolokia (1 million SHU). SHU stands for Scoville Heat Units, a measure of spiciness. To put things in perspective, a jalapeño is just 1,000 SHU.