This past Saturday, Alex "Moose" Perez danced with the devil at the first annual Hypnotic Donuts, World's Spiciest Donut Eating Contest. The masochist battle started with a plain old glazed doughnut (a teaser), then went on to three subsequent flavors that were increasingly hotter. The fourth and final pastry, the Devil's Death Dance, had ghost pepper icing, cayenne, jalapeño and serrano peppers.
After downing one of each kind of the first three, contestants were tasked with eating as many of the Devil's Death Dances as their scorched palates would allow in 10 minutes.
For Moose, that magic number was six. And not only did he live to tell about it, he had a shot of tequila to top it off.
This path really started 37 years ago when little baby Alex came roaring into this world at 12-pounds. The nurses and the doctors warned his surely frazzled mother that she better fill up the cupboards, and Saturday Moose lived up that infantile prognosis.
I caught up with Perez on Sunday night while he was on a nighttime bike ride in Fort Worth.
How are things? Great. I'm actually on a bike ride right now.
Do you eat competitively often? Yes, I've done the Libertine corndog-eating contest, and I recently won first-place in a Hooters wings-eating contest and I'm going to the semi-finals at the Brewfest on September 15th.
But, ghost peppers are a whole other level of things. You can eat corndogs or wings and maybe have a little tummy ache, but ghost peppers can really make you sick. No, my stomach is basically made of steel. After the contest people were expecting me to, like, vomit, have an upset stomach and run to the toilet, but I had two tequila shots and was fine within an hour.
So, you had tequila before or after? After.
Oi. What about sweating? Did the heat overtake your body? I was sweating, had a runny nose and my eyes were watering, but that's normal for consuming lots of peppers.
What do you attribute your steel-like stomach too? My upbringing has a lot to do with it because I'm Mexican-Guatemalan-Japanese. All those cultures eat such spicy foods.
What was the most painful part of eating the six ghost pepper doughnuts? Actually, the most difficult part was the consistency of the custard in the middle of the doughnut. I wasn't used to that, and it threw me off. Before I bit into it, I didn't actually know it was custard. For brief second, I thought, "I don't know if I'm going to be able to do it."
But, I was in the Marine Corps for five years and I just said, "I'm going to have to do this."
Oh. The Marine Corps ... that explains a little. Yeah, so eating the ghost pepper is sort of like being hit with a CS grenade in the military. That's the special gas we use for like riot control. It's equivalent to that experience.
And so you've had a little bit of training? What I kept thinking was, and this gets really deep, when I'd get hit with CS gas in the Marine Corps, I loved it [his voice raises and he's talking faster], I'd want to be hit with more and more! So, when I was eating that ghost pepper I was thinking about being in the military and being hit with CS gas.
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Like 'Nam flashbacks [I say jokingly]. Yeah. [He plays along.]
I'm not sure of a delicate way to ask this, but everyone will want to know: Did everything come out OK in the end? Everything came out perfectly fine. I had no problems or issues. I woke up the next day and did a 40-mile bike ride. And I'm actually another bike ride now. I did actually get a nosebleed from the ghost pepper. But, that's all.
So, no stomach ache or fire in the bathroom, but a nose bleed? Yep.
I think you should run for mayor or something, because if all hell breaks loose I really think you can handle just about anything. Totally. No doubt about it.