Troy Primeaux has led an interesting life. From thrashing out in the 90s as part of the Deep South psychedelic rock band Santeria, to cultivating arguably the world’s hottest pepper, the 7 Pot Primo pepper.
Primeaux shifted to horticulture in the early 2000s, reportedly in need of a more family-appropriate lifestyle. While studying at the University of Louisiana, he carefully cross bred pepper varieties to produce the distinctive and super-spicy 7 Pot Primo.
Known to be a cross between the Naga Morich and the Trinidad 7-Pot pepper, the 7 Pot Primo is, of course, seriously hot.
7 Pot Primo Pepper Facts:
- Scoville: Up to 1.5 million
- Diameter: 1-1.5″
- Length: 1-2″
- Color: Red
- Species: Capsicum chinense
- Seeds: Primo’s Peppers
There is also some controversy about the 7-Pot Primo pepper. It has strikingly similar look and heat level to the infamous Carolina Reaper, and some speculate that may not be a coincidence.
7 Pot Primo Pepper Scoville Scale
We know that the 7 Pot Primo is a cross between 2 very spicy peppers, but even Primeaux was surprised with the result. It is certainly among the hottest peppers in the world.
Simply put Troy Primeaux has stated that the 7-Pot Primo pepper comes in around 1,500,000 SHUs, making it one of the hottest peppers ever officially tested. By comparison, a habanero pepper has around 250,000 SHUs, and a jalapeño has just 5,000.
The pepper is bright red and resembles a nuclear explosion’s mushroom cloud. The unusual, gnarly shape pairs well with the overwhelming heat level.
The original 7 Pot pepper got its name from the local Trinidadian legend that each pepper could spice up 7 pots of stew. All 7 Pot peppers are seriously hot, and Primeaux’s cross is the king of them all.
This leads us to an important topic. Which is hotter, the Carolina Reaper or the 7 Pot Primo? The pods look similar, have very similar heat levels, but one is much more famous.
Carolina Reaper vs 7 Pot Primo Controversy
Internet discussions have put into question whether the Carolina Reaper is just the 7-Pot Primo in disguise. The 2 varieties look very similar and both have extreme heat, so which truly deserves to hold the crown for the hottest pepper in the world?
In this adorable phone interview, Troy Primeaux hints at a possibility that the two are in fact the same pepper. He also states that the 7 Pot Primo holds the record for the hottest pepper tested at NMSU’s Chile Pepper Institute.
There are some test results circulating on the internet comparing the SHU levels of the two peppers, with the Primo sometimes edging out the Reaper. However, I cannot personally verify that they are official results.
Ed Currie claims that his Carolina Reaper is a cross between a Pakistani Naga (ghost) pepper and a mysterious Caribbean habanero pepper called La Soufrière. With two vague pepper varieties to look to, the true origin of the Reaper’s genetic makeup is largely unknown.
On the other hand, the 7 Pot Primo has a well-documented origin. It is known to be a cross between the Trinidad 7 Pot and Naga Morich peppers.
Troy Primeaux began developing his pepper cross in the early 2000s at University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Horticulture Department. He details his story of creating the pepper in this article (highly recommended read!).
Primeaux obtained a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture from ULL. He also worked with his professors while creating the pepper cross. The point is, Troy is no amateur when it comes to growing and breeding plants.
Primeaux has openly talked about selling seeds during early development of the 7-Pot Primo, before the pepper cross was stable. This has led some to speculate whether Ed Currie was one of the early seed buyers.
In 2012, the Carolina Reaper became the official world’s hottest pepper, and Primeaux was shocked. The new hottest pepper sure looked a lot like his beloved 7-Pot Primo which had, at the time, been in development for 7 generations.
It was particularly curious that both pepper varieties had a distinctive “tail” or “stinger.” This unique pepper characteristic was largely unheard of before either pepper was debuted.
Some fellow pepper growers have claimed that the 7 Pot Primo is a more consistent pepper plant than the Carolina Reaper. Consistency means that the plants produce reliable peppers in shape, size, yield and heat levels.
Much of this is determined by growing conditions and plant care, but when these are kept consistent, how do the plants compare?
Others, like this Puckerbutt affiliated grower, have claimed that the Reaper is highly consistent, with less than 2% of seeds growing inconsistent pods. He also claims that he also grew 7 Pot Primos, and that they were different.
We at Pepper Geek can’t confirm personally either way, as we haven’t grown 7-Pot Primos (yet), but we can share our recent experience growing Reapers.
The 2 Carolina Reaper plants we grew in 2020 were very inconsistent in pod shape, size, and productivity. Out of over 40 pepper varieties grown in 2020, our Reaper plants were by far the least productive. One Reaper plant produced no peppers at all, with a neighboring JPGS plant producing dozens of pods.
Every other pepper plant we grew produced respectable yields. We grew many superhot chinense varieties with great success, so it is not a matter of growing technique or environmental factors.
One possible explanation is that we ordered our Reaper seeds from a third party, semillas.de. This is a well respected hot pepper seed supplier, but ultimately our seeds did not come directly from Puckerbutt. We also only grew 2 Reaper plants, meaning that the results are not indicative of the plant variety as a whole.
As for the 7 Pot Primo, we have official seeds on hand, ready to plant in the 2021 growing season. We also bought official Reaper seeds from Puckerbutt to compare the two varieties side-by-side. We will update this article with our results later in the year. Time will tell!
Reaper vs Primo – Overall Thoughts
Owning the rights to the world’s hottest pepper comes with big financial benefits, so we will likely never know the full truth. Perhaps Smokin’ Ed was a more savvy marketer who took advantage of an opportunity.
It certainly seems possible that Smokin’ Ed Currie got seeds for the 7 Pot Primo early on and renamed the pepper to chase down the Guinness World Record title. With seeds, he could also have used the Primo’s genetics to cross breed with other pepper varieties.
Another possibility is that Ed Currie simply grew out Primo’s seeds for several generations, choosing the hottest peppers to regrow. This would not equate to a new variety, but rather a slightly different outcome from the same original genetics.
Of course, it is also perfectly possible that Currie really did work independently of Troy Primeaux to create what turned out to be a very similar-looking pepper. Smokin’ Ed certainly has a passion for growing and cross breeding peppers.
Either way, the Carolina Reaper has become the more famous pepper by far. It is the pepper variety that every super spicy hot sauce maker wants to use in their hottest products.
7-Pot Primo Seeds
If you would like to grow the 7 Pot Primo pepper, we recommend getting them directly from the source. This will ensure that your seeds come from isolated plants. Some seed suppliers may have open pollinated plants, meaning there is a risk of cross-pollination with other pepper varieties.
Get 7 Pot Primo pepper seeds from Primo’s Peppers here.
Other 7 Pot Primo Varieties
Since the 7 Pot Primo was introduced to the world of chiliheads in the 2000s, many variations have been discovered and isolated. These mostly include color variations on the original pod shape.
7 Pot Primo Orange – Seeds
With a similar shape to the original 7 Pot Primo, the orange variant has a more vibrant orange/yellow color. The flavor is said to be delicious, and heat is still scorching.
7 Pot Primo Chocolate – Seeds
Another color variation, the chocolate pods are usually more flowery in flavor. Chocolate pods are always fascinating to watch ripen in the garden. These pods look truly sinister!
Primotalii – Seeds
Some popular chiliheads claim that the Primotalii pepper is the hottest pepper they have ever tasted. It is a cross between the 7 Pot Primo and the Yellow Fatalii pepper. The long, slender pods with extremely long tails certainly look evil.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the 7-Pot Primo pepper. We are fascinated by this result of Troy Primeaux’s hard work and love for peppers. We’ll continue to ask questions as time goes on, updating this post as we learn more. Stay tuned!
Update (2/23/21) – I am planning to chat with Troy Primeaux himself in the near future to learn more about the history of his pepper and his take on it!