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It Burns: The Scandal-Plagued Race to Breed the World’s Hottest Chilli

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,690 ratings  ·  244 reviews
Written and hosted by Marc Fennell, It Burns is the story of a 10-year scandal-plagued international competition that will take listeners from the Australian Coast to South Carolina (via an Indian Research Facility).

It’s a war filled with larger than life characters. There will be sledging, accusations of cheating, theft and performance enhancing drugs. And allegations tha
Audible Audio, 6 pages
Published April 15th 2019 by Audible
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  1,690 ratings  ·  244 reviews

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Montzalee Wittmann
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
It Burns: The Scandal-Plagued Race to Breed the World’s Hottest Chilli by Marc Fennell and narrated by author is not a book I thought it would be. I thought it might be about the different contest, peppers, how they judge...I really don't know what I thought but this wasn't it.
This book bounced all over the world finding the hottest chili peppers, the killers! Discussing why people love the pain and talking to dedicated Pepperheads to find out! Apparently there is more to eating peppers than a
Karen ⊰✿
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s like a car crash. You can’t stop watching (or listening in this case!)
This is a fascinating and compelling look into the world of hot chillies. Who knew there would be so much controversy, back stabbing and even death threats in this community!
Told honestly and with humour, once you start you just have to listen until the end. Much more about humanity and communities than chillies, this is highly recommended listening and currently available for free on audible.
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm not a chili lover and I wouldn't have gotten this if it hadn't been free on Audible.

I enjoyed it. Chili history and science, along with insights into human nature definitely made this one worth it.
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2019, nonfiction
Have you heard of Chilliheads? These people are nuts. Bonkers. Wacked in the head. Look at this, the really painful bit starts 8 minutes into it:

Delightfully silly topic. Unless, obviously, you are a chilli head. In that case this is dead serious, mate! A fun playlist is further down.

Shockingly, there are some shocking and disturbing parts in this narrative as well and not in a good way.

The mentioned Ed Currie and breeding the Carolina Reaper:
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Four stars may be the highest rating I've ever given an Audible Original. I expected to learn some scientific information and fun trivia facts about peppers, and this was so much more.

This digs deep into the psyche of why torturing oneself with dragon fire fruits took off in a blaze of fanaticism. Why would someone eat something that would cause them intense agony for hours on end? Why are the chili breeders in such sharp competition to get the title of "World's Hottest"? Marc Fennel goes to th
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, nonfiction
Welcome to the world of obsessive white guys burning their mouths to cleans their souls. This was a fun travelogue exploring the worlds hottest chilies but it also went deep.

Why expose yourself to terrible pain for mild euphoria? Why are there so many ex-alcoholic/drug abusers in the chili community? Is the pain a sacrifice towards spiritual transcendence?

My favorite chili is the Hatch and it’s currently Hatch Season so it’s in everything!
These are fabulous if you ever get the chance.

As a gene
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
An Audible original that I got for free because it seemed to be the best of a sorry lot of choices for the month. I finished it (just short of three hours), but it is really not too good. In fact a lot of it (people who choose to eat the hottest chili peppers in the world and post their excruciating pain on the internet), just deals with mentally ill people--they are masochists who enjoy pain for some perverse reason. While mental illness can be an interesting topic, celebrating it is not.
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Foodies, salsa aficionados, sadomasochists, people who like mouth-burning pain
Do you like mouth-burning pain?

This Audible original is about chili peppers and the people obsessed with breeding (and eating) the hottest of the hot. Today's foodie culture includes those gastronomic sadomasochists who enjoy eating Ghost Peppers, Chocolate Habaneros, Trinidad Scorpions, and the reigning king of mouth-burning pain, the Carolina Reaper.

Carolina Reaper

A plain old jalapeno? 8,000 Scovilles.
Tobasco sauce? 50,000 Scovilles.
The Carolina Reaper? Over 2 MILLION Scovilles!

Marc Fennell goes around the w
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: food-drink
Note: take the trigger warnings seriously

I really appreciated that Fennell spoke to his issues with food, he was very honest and open and it was a strength of the book. It was short, free, and fairly interesting.

That said, there were some great ideas that Fennell seemed to wish to discuss but didn't have the time, leaving the book feeling like it didn't stick the landing at the end. Ideas of community, relationship to food, addiction to pain, even the effects of the internet on what is basically
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like most people I imagine, I've gotten this free from Audible.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear Marc's Aussie accent when I first started listening to It Burns, I went into it knowing literally nothing about it (other than the title), which I think was a good decision as I didn't go in with any expectations.

As it was, it was a rambling, mostly aimless, but very charming and entertaining little adventure through the world of high-enthusiasm chili-heads.

Recommended if you can grab it while it's
Rob Thompson
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
'It Burns', delves deep into the cut-throat world of competitive chilli-eating. It also explores the race to breed the world's hottest chilli and deal with allegations that an Australian chilli-growing family was cheated of a Guinness World Record. And finally we discover how people manage pain to shape and define their sense of self and feel more alive. I thought this would be a quirky story about a few chilli farmers. But it turned out to be something far darker, personal and challenging.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a story of hot peppers, told through a personal lens of the narrator's difficult relationship with food. While I appreciated the personal aspect, I do wish that this focused more on science/psychology, rather than speculation and personal anecdote. This isn't to say that the story completely lacked the science/psychology perspective; that was definitely in there. However, I would have preferred if the narrative focused solely on it.
Sep 30, 2020 rated it liked it
This was not even close to what I expected when I bought it. It is very well done, however, and since it is a documentary done in audio form this means you cannot even see the thing they are talking about. But it does seem that you get a bit more of the emotion because of that same fact. You have to visualize everything which actually pulls you into the narrative even better. This is both researched, written, and narrated by Marc Fennell.

This is the story of a 10-year scandal-plagued internation
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Relatively short but nevertheless entertaining and informative. It didn't change my life, but kept me entertained for a couple of hours.
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This short documentary was a free Audible offering. Probably because it intersected with an interest of mine, I really enjoyed it.

It was very colorful. I had no idea there was a whole subculture of people who compete to see who can consume the most capsaicin before either their bodies or minds force them to quit. They were compared to alcoholics or drug addicts, and it seemed like a fair comparison to me. The narrator interviewed a dominatrix (with a doctorate in psychology!) who talked about wh
Snorre Lothar von Gohren Edwin
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible
Again, Audible orignals deliver a good story!
Just getting this type of insight on how the chilli world works is cool!
Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Jon Ronson-esk with chillies
Powder River Rose
I enjoyed this audiobook and listened twice, once by myself and the second with my husband. We both found it a quite interesting subject and while the narration was very good, sometimes his voice dropped and the interviews with others were softer than his voice and then when the music played....well that was just rather irritating because it’s sooooo loud or distracting from the spoken word.

Believe me, you will find out about an entire lifestyle based on Chili, some dark and some of unusual and
Alan Teder
Entertaining Overview of the Hottest Chili Peppers in the World
Review of the Audible Audio audiobook (2019)

This was entertaining and informative and also provided a bit of insight into the somewhat masochistic world of hot chili pepper eaters. Also note the cover image of a hot pepper wrapped in barbed wire, an extension of the 'heart in barbed wire' meme representing a person trapped in love.

Image source = Wikipedia illustration for the article on the Scoville heat scale.

It Burns was one of the
(EDIT: Warning! I started eating more chilli peppers after reading this book. :D Did you?)

The author, Marc Fennel, brings us around the world in the pursuit of the hottest chilli and many other spicy stories.

Surprisingly, the story begins in Australia, where the previous record is held. The hottest chilli in the world until 2013 is called "The Trinidad Scorpion Butch T", and it grows in Central Coast (NSW). But then in suspicious circumstances, hotter chilli pepper is claimed in South Carolina (
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Awesome journey by Audible and Marc Fennell. Captivating and unique. I had no idea it would get as heavy as it did. I loved hearing the authors feelings on how his research related to his own struggles with food.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: hell-nope
It wasn’t interesting to me.
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I got this for free as an audiobook from Audible Originals. It was okay and I learned some interesting things about peppers and the crazy people who like to cause themselves pain with them.

I didn't think the book was especially humorous, it also took a weird turn a few times as it explored how hot food and religion are linked.

Another weird digression was taken when Fennell decides to visit a dominatrix to explore people's addiction to pain (this short little bit is what makes this an adult boo
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I was living in Mexico it would drive me crazy how everybody would assume that I'd eat spicy food. I went to restaurants and clearly ordered food with no chilli peppers, only to be told, after I complained of the outstanding amount of jalapenos, how "it wasn't even that spicy." Servers, other patrons and even the people eating with me looked at me like I had grown a second head... how could I enjoy bland food? This all made me wonder what could possibly make a person, a whole country want t ...more
Altivo Overo
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
What drives people to compete with each other over growing (or eating) the world's hottest peppers? What is the seedy underside (pun intended) of that business? Fennell has it covered in this study of the business, as it has been driven to madness by internet exposure over the last decade or two. An interesting listen or read, though I honestly have to admit I'm looking from the outside in. Nothing there that I could much identify with, for sure. Interviews with growers, technical experts (inclu ...more
Bill Shannon
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A surprisingly entertaining listen that's somewhere between a long podcast and a Jon Ronson subculture expose. Who knew the world of hot chili peppers was so contentious?? Much better than most of Audible's mediocre nonfiction fare.
Ryan Stewart
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyable deep dive into an eccentric subculture I didn't know existed. Pain is the name of the game, and apparently so is cyberbullying, addiction and intense competition.
Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it
A long form Audible podcast into "chiliheads" that descends too far into indulgent navel gazing.

"It Burns" tells an interesting, if brief, story about aficionados of super hot chili peppers and some of those seeking to grow "the world's hottest pepper."

Obviously any hobby that involves ingesting painful amounts of chili peppers attracts some interesting folks. And they're interviewed here, including the grower of the Carolina Reaper, a YouTuber that routinely does what might be described as "st
Nate Adams
Aug 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Pretty interesting and entertaining short listen. Would recommend.
Fahed Alnuaimi
Sep 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, english
Finding pleasure through pain?
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