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Winder BBQ joint creates a food challenge that features some of the world's spiciest chili peppers

POSTED: July 24, 2014 12:57 p.m.
Zac Taylor/Barrow County News

Local man Larry Azdell was the first competitor, and first winner, since Smokin' Po Boys Gnereal Manager and Chef Michael Welch created the Ghost Chili wings challenge the week before (the mask is only for show as are the gloves, so long as you don't put your hands near your eyes for awhile after eating any of the wings).

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The Winder restaurant general manager who once commissioned a mural some referred to as a "devil pig," now has a wing sauce he calls "Satan’s Tears."

Smokin’ Po Boys chef and general manager Michael Welch is even allowing customers to try some of the sauce, but with a few conditions. The new sauce is the central part of the barbeque restaurant’s new eating challenge, something that’s been in the works for awhile.

The challenge is deceptively simple-sounding: Eat 10 Ghost Chili wings in less than 10 minutes without being able to eat or drink anything else.

Win, and you get a free Smokin’ Po Boys t-shirt and you don’t have to pay for the wings. Lose, and you have to pay for the wings plus give up your shirt, which Welch said will be donated to a local clothing drive.

But these wings aren’t even comparable to the hot wings the restaurant regularly serves.

Ghost Chili’s are known as the world’s hottest peppers that are available to the general public, five times hotter than a habanero pepper and 5,000 times hotter than a jalapeno, and register in at 1.4 million Scoville units on the scale used to measure spice in peppers.

The true name for the pepper is Bhut Jolokia and it hails from northern India. It was rated as the world’s hottest pepper until 2013, and is now considered third hottest. The reason why it’s flavor ended up in Welch’s kitchen is because he figured it’d be another good way for him to stand out and get his restaurant known, not unlike the pig mural (this one not to be confused with the so-called devil pig) he recently had finished on the side of his building.

"I wanted a challenge that could get people excited," he said.

After discounting the idea of a Man vs. Food style challenge revolving around a giant BBQ sandwich – he said he didn’t want to promote gluttony – he zeroed in on spicy wings.

"I wanted it to be funny, hokey, tacky, and get people’s attention," he said, noting that, except for the mural story, it’s been the most-spread story about the restaurant on Facebook.

For all the buzz surrounding the challenge though, it took a week before someone was willing to give it a go. Local man Larry Azdell, who said he had done more than a dozen such challenges through the years, ended up being both the first contestant and first winner.

It wasn’t easy.

"These are the hottest wings I’ve ever had," he said during the 10-minute time frame while eating the wings as his coworkers and restaurant staff cheered him on.

The wings aren’t just spicy, though. Welch said that, as a chef, he wasn’t going to serve food that wasn’t also pleasing to eat, at least until the heat kicked in.

"It’s an amazing flavor," said one of his employees who tried one wing, Jake. "You think you’re going to enjoy them, and then you can’t breathe because of the intense heat."

Of course, Welch doesn’t actually want to cause anyone real damage, even after they sign a release form. Anyone who tries the challenge has to be at least 18 years old and in moderately good health, Welch said. He also reserves the right to refuse the challenge to anyone, if he’s at all concerned about their health.

And he said his servers won’t be pushing the challenge on anyone, they’ll actually try to discourage those who want to do it.

But if a customer really wants to do it, they’ll bring on the wings.

"It is doable," he said. "But it’s not for the weak."



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