On the festival’s opening day, last Monday, July 2, a local chilli-eating contestant, Tang Shuaihui, proved he was too hot for the other competitors to handle when he downed 50 chilli peppers in just over a minute.
Hosted at Tanhe Ancient City theme park, the 10 contestants ate from plates stacked with 50 Tabasco chilli peppers in a race to see who could finish them first. Doctors were on hand in case of emergency, but Tang rose to the occasion and finished his plate in 68 seconds. As well as winning the awe of spectators for his speed, Tang’s official competition prize was a three-gram, 24-karat gold coin.
Sun Minying, an employee at the theme park, told news agency AFP “He finished them at an amazing speed, barely after the emcee had finished speaking.”
The Tabasco chilli has a heat level of 30,000-50,000 heat units, according to the Scoville Scale, which is used to measure the spiciness and heat of a pepper. This makes it considerably hotter than a jalapeño but not as hot as a habanero chilli.
The contestants were sat in a pool filled with water and three tonnes of floating chillies, which looked like a sea of red. However, the chillies in the pool were a less spicy variety than those on the plate to avoid irritating the contestants’ skin. Many of the contestants winced with pain, and some even had tears in their eyes as they chomped their way through the red-hot chillies.
Residents in China’s Hunan province are no stranger to chillies, as the local cuisine is known for its hot and spicy flavours and is considered among China’s eight great regional cuisines. However, eating fresh chillies is enough to test the mettle of even the greatest spice-lovers.