Pepper partners hold pepper festival

By Chad Nesbitt

Leicester – Nick Hyatt and Justin Freeman have become social media celebrities on Facebook with their LIVE taste testing of some of the hottest peppers in the world. Each time they broadcast they average over 10,000 viewers. The broadcast quickly becomes hilarious after they and their guests consume peppers such as the famous Carolina Reaper.

Inspired by the success of their show, the two Leicester residents decided to host the 1st Annual N & J Pepper Festival held this past Saturday (Aug. 18) in Leicester. Pepper growers from all over came to show off a variety of peppers from sweet, mild, hot, and nuclear.

Hyatt said, “About four or five years ago I started reviewing peppers for companies testing for taste and heat…People and companies send us sauces, powders, seasonings, fresh peppers and we review them and there is also a little bit of comedy. We like watching Justin puke.”

Freeman said, “The pepper community has been extremely welcoming to me and Nick. They took me in just like family and we love each and every one of them…I think they just like to watch me puke.”

Steve Behler, who was at the pepper festival with Peppers Peppers, a grower from Forest City, says the way you can tell a hot pepper is by how many wrinkles it has. Behler said, “A lot of times the capsaicin content does add extra wrinkles. Behler cut a pepper called a Jigsaw in half and showed us the inside. He and Nick Hyatt explain how the placenta inside a pepper also indicates how hot it is by its yellow, oily content. The Jigsaw is one of the hottest peppers in the world and ranks with the Carolina Reaper. Behler called it “Absolute insanity.”

Believe it or not, peppers have medicinal purposes. Freeman explained that peppers have vitamins in them that are known to fight cancer cells and cure ulcers. “If you can get past the heat, the benefits far outweigh the hurt,” Freeman said. He’s right.

According to a Duke Medical Center finding published in 2012, cancerous tumors injected with a combination of Capsaicinoids from hot peppers caused the tumors to instantly disappear and is awaiting FDA trials. Nick Freeman explained that eating hot peppers agitated ulcers but the oils cure them and prevent ulcers.

The N & J Pepper Festival included a pepper eating contest, BBQ dinners, education info, and was fun for the entire family. Hyatt said, “We are just glad we could bring growers like Behler from Forest City, Randy Keton from Kingsport TN, and others” to this festival.

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