The producer of the world's hottest chili peppers is in South Carolina, home of the Guinness-record "Carolina Reaper" pepper, not Mexico.

"This chili is 300 times hotter than the jalapeño. The jalapeño has 1,000 units on the heat scale and the 'Carolina Reaper' has 1.5 million," Ed Currie, holder of the Guinness record, said.

"Chili" is a Nahuatl word and the spicy peppers are believed to have been part of the diet in the Americas since about 7,500 B.C.

"The first time I tried a chili was in the 1980s in Michigan, I was, like, 17 or 18," the 50-year-old Currie said.

The Carolina Reaper looks like it has a scorpion's tail on one end and has a red fruit on the other whose concentration of spice is nearly at the level of most of the pepper sprays used by police in the United States.

"Many people get sick after trying it. This chili is really hot," Currie said.

Guinness World Records gave the Carolina Reaper the record as the world's hottest chili pepper on Dec. 26, 2013.

"The hottest chilli (sic) is Smokin Ed's 'Carolina Reaper,' grown by The PuckerButt Pepper Company (USA), which rates at an average of 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), according to tests conducted by Winthrop University in South Carolina, USA, throughout 2012," Guinness World Records said.

The chili market is growing rapidly in the United States, with consumption of the peppers up 8 percent in less than five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Currie's PuckerButt Pepper Company expects to harvest about 17 million chilis on its farms in South Carolina and could make up to $1 million from sales of seeds and chili paste to sauce makers. EFE