Burns turns up the heat

Student’s sauce scorches school


Shyla Clayton

Hunter Burns, 12, with his Trinidad moruga scorpion pepper plant that he is growing in the agri greenhouse. Burns received the seeds for the plant from a neighbor who knew of his fascination with creating his own hot sauces.

Shyla Clayton

Senior Hunter Burns was eating pizza when his grandma asked him if he wanted to try some hot sauce she had bought online. He would have never guessed that little taste would have developed into an obsession.

Burns had always liked hot sauce, so when his grandma mentioned this hot sauce was extremely hot, he was up for the challenge. Putting three huge globs of Mad Dog 357 on his pizza, his grandma told him it was way too much. He didn’t listen.

“It was pretty bad,” Burns said.  “I cried for a little bit after eating that. My stomach began hurting and the next morning was terrible.”

They know it’s hot, and most of them cry. I just think it’s funny seeing everyone’s face when they feel the heat”

— Hunter Burns

After this incident, Burns brought some of the sauce to school for his friends to try. He loved seeing the reaction on people’s faces when they felt the burn.

“Every time I bring this hot sauce to school I warn people,” he said. “It is going to be hot. They need to eat something before they try it because it will make their stomach hurt really bad. I tell them not to drink water because it just makes it worse.”

Lots of people began asking Burns if he made this hot sauce. This spiked his curiosity. Burns went home and looked up how to make hot sauce and began making his own.

“My hot sauce is made of four ghost peppers, four habaneros, four cloves of garlic, distilled white vinegar and salt,” he said.

After blending the concoction in the food processor, Burns boils it and then processes it again before bottling.

“On the Scoville scale it’s just barely a step underneath Mad Dog 357, so I would say my hot sauce is probably 345,000 for its heat index,” he said. “But my hot sauce has a better flavor.”

Burns’ old neighbor knew he liked hot food, so on a trip he went to Pepper Palace and bought him a can of Trinidad moruga scorpion pepper seeds. These peppers are classified as the second hottest peppers in the world, with a heat level of 1.2 million Scoville units.  This led to a new level of his obsession.

“I started growing them during the summer and they began to get bigger, so I had to put them in a bigger pot,” he said. “Then they got too big for that pot, and I put them in the ground at a friend’s house. They stopped growing for a little, and then I came to school and asked Mr. Fires if I could bring one of my plants to school. Ever since I brought it here, it’s been getting bigger and bigger.”

Many students that have tried Burns’s hot sauce and Mad Dog 357 will agree they are both dangerously hot.

“It was just death,” Tyler Morris, 10, said. “I tried both of them. The one in the bowl, Mad Dog 357, was the hottest thing ever but it tasted really good. It had to be straight flames in my mouth. Then the one that Hunter made was really good, but it hurt my stomach. Tears were just rolling down my face.”

My throat felt like it was going to fall out,” Raven Hall, 12, said. “It made me cry.”

The process of making this hot sauce is very dangerous. Burns has to wear latex gloves to keep from burning the skin on his hands. He has to turn on his vent hood to keep the air from hitting his face, which would cause his nose to bleed and his eyes to water.

In spite of all the precautions he has to take, Burns feels completing this dangerous process is worth seeing the reaction on people’s faces.

“A lot of people wanna try it just to try it,” he said. “They know it’s hot, and most of them cry. I just think it’s funny seeing everyone’s face when they feel the heat.”