Britain’s weather may be unpredictable but visitors to Blackpool this spring are sure of a hot climate with the return of the resort’s Chilli Festival.
The celebration of all things spicy returns to town on April 22 and organisers claim it will turn up the heat on previous events.
The free event takes place in St John’s Square, between 10am and 5pm and visitors will be able to sample the hottest chillis nature can provide.
There will be stalls selling and producing chilli-based products from chilli cheese to chilli chocolate.
Organised by Blackpool Business Improvement District (BID), there will also be live music and street entertainers.
There will also be contests were competitors can see who can bear eating the hottest chillis.
The festival, now in its fifth year, was created to shine a light on the nation’s fascination with spicy foods.
The delicious spicy burn is for many people one of life’s great pleasures.
While commonly referred to as vegetables, chillies are in fact fruit from the plant genus “Capsicum”.
Scientists believe capsaicin, the spicy molecule in hot peppers, is activating receptors in pain neurons in their mouths.
Chillies are rated on a spiciness scale known as Scoville – a grading of heat that goes from the bell pepper (0) right up to the fearsomely named Carolina Reaper (2.2 million).
Wayne Algenio, 31, from New York, consumed 22 Carolina Reapers,
The competitive eating veteran won the record title after competing in the Puckerbutt Pepper Company’s Smokin’ Ed’s Reaper Eating Challenge at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo in Brooklyn on April 24, 2009.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is anothe famous chilli enthusiasts who admits he is addicted to the fiery treats.
Last year, to the delight of chilli fans, Tescos announced they were to begin stocking the red hot Carolina Reaper.
However, every year hundreds of people are admitted to hospital A&E departments for treatment after eating hot chillis.
Chillis are caustic to mucous membranes and can burn your taste buds.
Experts also warn spice lovers to make sure they wash their hands thoroughly after handling chillis before going to the toilet or attempting to rub their eyes.
Once swallowed, the heat of the capsaicin can cause reflux and heartburn when the pepper reaches your stomach and interacts with the acid there.
This also can result in nausea.
Capsaicin once had an undeserved reputation for causing ulcers, but research has shown that while it can aggravate ulcer pain, it does not cause ulcers to develop.
Can you handle the heat?
• The Carolina Reaper is so strong, you’re supposed to wear gloves when you hold it.
• The Carolina Reaper chilli is 400 times more spicy than the tasty Jalapeno peppers you can get on pizzas, which only rate a chilly 3,500 on the Scoville scale.
• It’s the same species as the famously fiery Scotch bonnet chilli which is often used in West Indian cooking.
• It’s not the seeds that make a chilli spicy, it’s the white flesh nearest to the seeds that give it its kick.
• Only mammals feel the heat of a chilli, they don’t affect birds at all.