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Start the Insanity. Peppers Pub Incredibly Hot Wing Challenge

All pepperheads know the feeling. There’s just something about that little spicy ingredient, despite all the pain it can induce, that just keeps us coming back for more.

So powerful is the draw of the hot pepper that pepperheads are willing to put up with a lot of pain and perhaps some excessive sweating to “enjoy” it.

Seasoned pepperheads Phil Croft and Dan Vienneau of Peppers Pub shared their pain with an audience at the pub to kick off the Peppers Pub Incredibly Hot Wing Challenge and their new menu on Sunday, March 13. Part owner Croft and pub manager Vienneau moaned, groaned and writhed in pain as they ate some of the scary-hottest chicken wings you’ll find anywhere.

The challenge, which now anyone can take for $20, is three rounds of four chicken wings each, with each round getting progressively hotter. Anyone that can complete the challenge, eating all the wings in a 30 minute period, will have their name engraved on the Peppers Pub wall of fame plaque in the bar, plus a free beer and a t-shirt to boot.

It starts out hot enough. Deeply-red, sauced chicken wings are dotted with intimidating minced habanero pieces. With habaneros scoring more then 200,000 scoville units, the measurement of a hot peppers’ heat, this is plenty of heat for most pepperheads. A jalapeno by comparison is only about 5,000 to 6,000 scoville units.

Croft and Vienneau seem to make easy work of the first round, which they enjoyed with a combination of habanero-infused beer and some regular beer.

They began to meet their match though in the second round. This time, the wings would be coated with both habanero puree and a puree of Naga Jolokia pepper, better known as Ghost Peppers. Running at nearly 1.4 million scoville units, Ghost Peppers pack one hell of a punch.

The contestants were feeling it. Sweat started to show on both, noses started running and painful expressions were frequent as they chomped away.

“It’s just four wings. Four little wings,” Vienneau said as he ate, egging himself on to keep going.

Croft took a good swig of beer before devouring the final wing of the second round and shortly after was doubled over in pain. Both said the pain after they finished eating was worse than when they were eating. Croft described a sensation of floating as he ate through the second round.

Then came the third round. These wings are a secret recipe at Peppers Pub but Croft estimates the scoville unit count is somewhere in the seven million range, or well into law enforcement-grade pepper-spray stopping power.

Right off the first bite, Croft looked like he had just taken a good hard punch. Vienneau’s head shot back as he groaned “oh God.”

Body language at this point was all over the place. Rational thinking comes and goes when this kind of pain sets in. It actually reminded me of something a doctor told me back in 2005 when my wife and I were in the hospital waiting for our daughter to be born and we had to listen to other women in adjacent rooms giving birth. One doctor said one of the women was in such pain at one point she started to climb the birthing chair in an attempt to get away from her body, which didn’t quite work.

By the end of the third round of wings, Croft and Vienneau, happy at the victory but in severe agony, couldn’t sit still because of searing pain but didn’t want to stand either. It would be about 20 minutes before either would leave their chair, writhing the whole time.

So, sound like fun? If you’ve got a stomach of steel like this guys, you can take the challenge anytime at Peppers Pub.

Round One Wings.  Dotted with habanero chunks.  Yowch.


Phil Croft starts to feel a bit of heat but the first round seemed relatively easy for the seasoned pepperheads.


Round Two.  Ghost Pepper and habanero puree.  Extremely hot, stupid hot wings.


Getting set to dive into round two.  Still smiling.


At the end of round two, feeling the pain.


Round Three’s wings.  The secret recipe packs a wicked punch.


Vienneau in the third round.  Hasn’t changed a bit.


Serious pain now.


Done but not over.  The pain is worse once the eating stops, says Croft.