The only way to describe the state of the pepper business for “Smokin’ Ed” Currie, the developer of the Carolina Reaper, officially the world’s hottest pepper, is…well, hot.
Chili peppers have been a part of Currie’s life for a long time. He has been making hot pepper sauces and salsas for 30 years. (He actually met his future wife when he whipped up a batch of mango salsa for her.)
“I was making hot sauces and salsas for the past 12 years here in the Carolinas. We’ve had this unique line of healthy products here for about 12 years. We do it all natural-seed to table,” he said, standing in a greenhouse in Rock Hill, surrounded by bushes with ripe Carolina Reapers all around him.
“God provides everything we need for good, healthy living,” Currie believes.
“We as humans want to make it better, our egos say we can make it better than God can, and so what happens is we actually get rid of the stuff that really helps us.”
The all-natural component is an important part of Currie’s business, as is a God-centered philosophy that provides for people first, then worries about profit..
“The whole reason our company has grown is because the focus hasn’t been ‘let’s make money’ the focus has been ‘how many people can we bring into the family and get working with us?’
“Honestly, we haven’t made any money in a long time, but we’ve got a lot of people working for us that weren’t working before,” Currie said.
“That’s the most important thing right there, is taking care of people. We as Americans have forgotten about community. The order of society used to be like this: God should be the top and then comes your family and extended family, and then your community should come under that, and work is part of the community and we used to be families at work. Now we’re just in cubes.
“I’ve pretty much modeled this company as being a family-oriented company. Everybody has the keys to my house, my cars. We all work together, and I trust them whole-heartedly.”
The fame that the Carolina Reaper’s new status has brought Currie and his PuckerButt Pepper Company has increased his orders sevenfold.
“Sevenfold,” a Biblical-sounding term, is a good way to describe what’s happened to the business.
Currie characterizes his fame and the success of his company and the peppers as gifts from God.
“I’m just doing the footwork. He’s doing the work for me. Every morning I get up and say ‘what’s Your will in my life today?’ and I look for that,” he said.
The business has really prospered, which means Currie can extend the blessing in the community. He plans to open a pepper processing facility in Rock Hill this year, employing about 40 to 50 people and he also plans to open another farm in Chester that has the potential to employ another 100 people.
Currie said that his message in all of the fame and (perhaps) fortune coming his way is “look for God’s will in your life. Do whatever that message is, and your life gets better. I mean, my life is unbelievable!”
You might even say his life is…smokin’.