El Pelon Taqueria runs the contest each year at its Peterborough Street location in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood. (Video by Deborah Cardoso)
By Deborah Cardoso
There’s hot and then there is 120 habanero peppers hot.
Philip Delaney, a scientist at Nano Terra, Inc. in Cambridge, knows how hot that is after eating 120 habanero peppers in one seating to set a new record at El Pelón Taqueria‘s 16th annual habanero pepper eating contest.
Habanero peppers range between 100,000 to 350,000 scovilles, a unit that measures the heat of chile peppers. By comparison, that’s about 30 to 40 times higher than most Tabasco sauces.
Last year’s first and second place winners were among the 12 contestants, but were not able to beat their record of a whooping 90 habaneros.
Contestants all compete for who can eat the most habanero peppers without taking a sip of the horchata, a Mexican drink made with rice, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon, sitting in front of them.
Every contestant buys a $30 ticket to participate and all proceeds go to Lovin’ Spoonfuls Food Rescue, an organization that works on the “rescue and distribution of healthy, fresh food that would otherwise be discarded.”
Slowly contestants forfeited by taking gulps of the horchata, but they didn’t walk away empty handed winning anywhere from $20-$80 worth of gift cards to the taqueria.
The pungency of peppers is measured in scoville units ranging from 0 to more than 2 million.
Owner of El Pelon Taqueria, Jim Hoben, even joked that they roast the peppers “so the seeds explode and they’re even hotter.”