As featured in “The Hot Sauce Issue” by Whalebone
(Originally published Summer 2020)
You might have thought that the search for Scovilles would bring @AccidentallyWesAnderson to some far-flung locales. Maybe Caribbean jungles, the banks of the Ganges, some remote Himalayan peak or even Louisiana. What snuck up on the gang from AWA was finding heat in the unlikeliest place, hidden behind an unassuming ice cream shop in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
As you head south on Route 1 into Rehoboth Beach, a small sign reads: peppers.com–the world’s largest collection of hot sauces. This is the realm of Chip Hearn, the hot pepper king who resides in this coastal town. Chip started his operation in 1980, traveling the world in search of exotic hot sauces to sell at a small family restaurant, The Country Squire. As the decades passed, and the collection grew, the hot sauce storefront became a reality and the boast on the sign no joke. The man who invented the Bloody Mary Smorgasbord cemented his reputation as the hometown hot sauce hero.
But maybe even more unlikely than the location in which AWA found Hot Sauce Hall of Famer Hearn is what he’s doing with the hot peppers he receives from his friend Smokin’ Ed Currie of the PuckerButt Pepper Co. in South Carolina, who is the creator of the Carolina Reaper. To keep at the top of the Scoville chart, Ed creates ever-hotter secret peppers with code names like Pepper X and Pepper Y, just in case someone tries to outdo his scorching successes.
For years Ed and Chip swapped secrets until one day it went a step further. Chip took to his small ice cream shop near the boardwalk, aptly named “The Ice Cream Store,” and in 2015 he created the first waiver-worthy scoop. Hidden among the regular vanilla and mint chip and 100+ homemade flavors, you’ll find an ice cream that contains a mouth-numbing mash of five of Ed’s experimental peppers even hotter than the Reaper. Don’t be fooled by the friendly strawberry swirl on top–the cold cream concoction is so hot no one younger than 18 is even allowed to try it, and anyone older than 65 requires written consent. And just in case, for everyone else, the local fire department is standing by.
The cold cream concoction is so hot no one younger than 18 is even allowed to try it, and anyone older than 65 requires written consent.