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March 6, 2007 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Will I die if I eat a habanero?

Today someone found my blog by typing “will i die if I eat a habanero?” into Google. I am terribly torn up at the thought of some lost and lonely soul, peering into the seedy pith of a fiery hot pepper, debating should I?  I hate to think of anyone falling into temptation of habanero consumption, ready to dive into 250,000 Scoville units of pure tongue-numbing terror without guidance.  So I am here to tell you about the day I got habanero juice in my eye.

Yes, my eye. 

I had been dating a Louisiana native for a while, and I was suddenly really into spicy foods.  I would use peppers and spices to liven up regular stuff.  One day my dad was visiting me in Washington, D.C. and I chose to make homemade chicken soup.  While shopping for celery, potatoes, and carrots, I grabbed a little orange pepper that looked like it “could add color” to my soup.  Heck, I liked peppers.  Those green and red bell peppers always were nice.  Surely this little, wrinkled orange one would turn out to be tasty, too.

This turned out to be my first brush with a habanero pepper.  In retrospect, I think petting a rattlesnake might have been more comfortable.     

So I was there in my kitchen, putting the soup together (I love making homemade soup…cans are for losers).  My dad was on the other side of the kitchen island, watching a Western.  I tossed the ingredients into the pot.  It came time to add the pretty pepper.  I chopped it up too.  I guess I got a little to excited about tossing the vegetables, because some of the chicken broth splashed me on the cheek.  I reached up to brush off my brow.

MY EYES!  Oh, the pain!  I hadn’t rinsed my hands from chopping the pepper!  I applied fresh, orange-tinged habanero juice directly onto my eyeball!  My instant reflex was to raise up my other hand and grab my face!  NO!  THE BLINDNESS!  Now my other eye was full of habanero juice!  I was thrasing up and down-unable to see, unable to speak, unable to breathe.  My eyes burned like they were full of needles.  My nose and lips were going numb from the pepper juice.  My dad chuckled at something Clint Eastwood said.  I reached over to the sink to rinse my hands, but all the water did was smear the toxin around.

I can’t really remember how this scenario ended.  I think the trauma of the pain erased my memory of the afternoon. 

The moral of the story is, don’t just go eating a habanero, whoever you are.  I am pretty certain that your stomach lining will dissolve, and you will most likely not be able to sit down for weeks.  (That’s if you can actually get past one bite.)  You’ll have to run out and buy one of those ‘hemorrhoid donuts’ to sit on from the inevitable swelling that will take place several hours after consumption.  These are not candy, people.  These are the kind of peppers that destroy lives and eyesight. 

Please use caution.

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15 Comments

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  1. John / Feb 15 2012 4:11 pm

    @Jana – I just had the EXACT SAME THING happen to me in the EXACT SAME PLACE a couple hours ago. Wow, I’ll never eat one of those again!

  2. Mark / Nov 10 2011 2:16 pm

    I will be eating hot wings with habenero in it. I’ll let you guys know how it goes.

  3. robin / Sep 1 2011 1:08 pm

    ok people some of you all are full of it. I was eating one last night and my 11 yr old got it in his eye. I thought i was going to have to take him to the er. I put him in the shower and ran cold water over with milk and eye drops it finally quit burning. I felt awful. So yes they do burn bad and for the comment that you eat them raw with non water milk or food i highly doubt that

  4. logan / Jun 24 2011 7:17 pm

    i just touched a hibanero pepper and rubbed my eye will my eye be okay? what should i do?
    plz answer

  5. Ivonne / Jun 16 2011 8:00 pm

    I’ve been eating habanero peppers since I was 3 years old, I am now 23. I cannot live without them. I eat them raw or cooked, depending on the food. I have never had any problems going to the restroom afterwards, I think I have a built a high tolerance for pain. I have also gotten habanero juice in my eyes and the pain is not that bad. So if anyone is interested in trying this delicious pepper, go ahead, you might get addicted to it just like me.

  6. Agent 4456 / Sep 29 2010 5:41 pm

    I know the feeling! I was cutting habanero peppers for my class and my eye was itchy, so I rubbed it. At first, I was fine, but after about maybe ten seconds, my eye and face started BURNING! I kept rubbing it, which wasn’t the brightest idea, and I think about after a minute doing that, I started bawling. The lady helping us cook saw me and asked if I was okay. I tried uncovering my eye and opening it, but I couldn’t. I almost screamed that I couldn’t see, but I held it back. She grabbed my arm and charged for the sink. She stuck my face under the water, gently, and rinsed off my face. I was pushing my eyes. yes both of them, and I got some in my OTHER eye. I asked her if I could wash my hands because my other eyes was burning, and she washed my hands. Anyways, after the experience, I went to the bathroom, and my cousin came with me, and when I looked in the mirror, I had healed, ALL AROUND MY EYES WERE RED! I showed my cousin and she laughed. She said I looked like a raccoon. Moral of the story: AVOID HABANERO PEPPERS! EVEN IN MEXICAN SALSA! Thanks for the story!

  7. Michael / Jul 14 2010 11:36 pm

    Justin is a liar. They are hot as hell. The bhut jolokia is much hotter though. And as for getting the juice in your eyes…. It sucks. I more than once have had a DROP of it hit my eye. If you slice them in half and salt the insides they will sweat out their juices pretty quickly. Makes some mighty fine sauce.

  8. Justin / Apr 5 2010 6:18 pm

    I eat whole habaneros daily without any milk, food, or water….there not that hot. Try a bhut jolokia 1,000,000 scoville units

  9. TPepper / Oct 20 2009 10:59 am

    Very funny story about these peppers. I will have to confess though, I eat these all the time, but I am very careful with them since they do have the punch of a rattler.

  10. Heartburn Home Remedy / Apr 15 2009 5:20 am

    If you ever want to read a reader’s feedback 🙂 , I rate this article for four from five. Decent info, but I have to go to that damn msn to find the missed parts. Thank you, anyway!

  11. Jana / Jan 29 2009 1:04 pm

    So I just happened to googgle ‘can you die from habanero?’ because I was telling my co-worker about how I THOUGHT I would die after eating one and he said he heard you can. Long story short: I was vacationing in Tulum, Mexico, when I sat down, famished, for dinner at a non-touristy restaurant. “Yum, those look good,” I said as I popped an ENTIRE habanero into my mouth thinking it was similar to one of those cotton-ball sized green or red peppers that come in a jar. I chewed, “Mmmm, good”, swallowed and in 20 seconds, was grabbing my throat and gasping for air. The waiter rushed over and said “Oh NO! We don’t even eat those!” They fed me bread, milk, pepto, tortilla chips, water. I ended up laying on the bathroom floor dripping in sweat from head to toe: literally…sweat DRIPPED AND RAN DOWN my arms and legs into little poison pools. I think the concrete floor peeled, but my eyes were filled with tears and terror so I’m not sure. I thought I was having an allergic reaction and was thinking “I can’t die here, not like this. Oh no, my cute new skirt is getting dirty”. My brother ran for the doctor while my husband monitored my pulse and reminded me to breathe. When I could stand up, we got a cab back to the palapa. I laid down and a total of 55 minutes later, I was a new person ready to eat dinner and get back to my margarita. In case you’re wondering, no ‘ramifications’ other than that I felt FANTASTIC for the next week. So for anyone out there contemplating a New Year’s detox, try a (very teeny tiny itty bitty) habanero instead. A lot less work and a lot faster result.

    Thank you for the comment. I just wanted to say I was rolling through this story. And next time I want a “cleanse” I know what to do…

  12. cherikooka / Apr 7 2007 5:56 pm

    So, how did the soup turn out? Was it good?

  13. kerrywright / Mar 11 2007 4:43 am

    Fantastic story, made all the better by the fact it was chicken soup you were making…

  14. pikespeakdenise / Mar 6 2007 1:44 pm

    lmao “NO! THE BLINDNESS!”

    I’m sorry, it’s not nice to laugh at your friends. But still, I can just picture it!

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