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The man with the asbestos mouth

By editorial assistant Sandi Toxic

Posted February 15, 2013
chilis for breakfast
Breakfast of champions: How we reckon Aaron Wakamatsu starts his day. (Check bottom for credits.)

Aaron Wakamatsu is a food challenger with a difference. His mouth is made of asbestos.

In February 2012, the New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute (yes, it really does exist) named the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion the hottest chili in the world with a bollock-whacking fire rating of up to 2m Scoville heat units (SHUs)1.

The following October, a 29-year-old attorney in the US state of Washington, Hawaiian-born Aaron Wakamatsu, felt a bit peckish.

Consumed by hunger2, there was only one thing for him to do: open up a 1 lb (454 g) jar of CaJohns Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Salsa and neck the lot with a spoon.

In under four minutes.

Fortunately, he had a video camera handy.

Unperturbed by what we at the Rake & Herald believe to be the equivalent of eating a thermite sandwich, Asbestos Mouth Aaron3, as we now believe he should be called, then headed over to Allan's Mexican Restaurant in Portland, Oregon this past January to snack on a light little dish called the Diablo Burrito.

Weighing in at around 1.5 lbs (680 g), this delicate morsel is filled with "rice, beans and about eight of the world's spiciest peppers" with a couple of serrano chilis sticking out the top like a Desperate Dan cow pie for ritualistic purposes.

Not wanting his lunch to go cold, Aaron immediately sunk he gnashers in, going at it like a jazz drummer until his platter was clean.

It took him just 8 minutes and 20 seconds, making him the first person on the planet to dispatch the Diablo in under 10 minutes.

Don't believe me?

Well watch this...

Surprisingly, Aaron hasn't always eaten the spicy equivalent of blazing benzene for breakfast.

"I've loved spicy food for most of my life but only started eating the really spicy stuff in 2010," he exclusively emails the Rake & Herald from a flame retardant-covered safety box while the local fire brigade keep watch with their hoses and things.

"I remember my college days in Hawaii; it took me a long time just to tell myself to try Taco Bell's 'fire' hot sauce."

"Now I could probably drink several fire sauce packets and enjoy it."

This we can well believe, but how does he do it?

"As for overcoming the heat, almost all of it is mental," he says.

Yep, it's certainly mental, I'll give him that.

"Even when my mouth, throat and arms refuse to cooperate, I tell myself that I can take this challenge down and force all the food down."

Mind you, he says, it helps to have some dairy products – milk or ice cream "work best" – and "some antacids by your side".

He also gets "a bit of an adrenaline rush during the spicy challenge attempts", which also "keeps [him] going".

But when it comes to sheer heat, what's been the daddy of them all?

"The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion salsa was easily the spiciest thing I've ever eaten and probably my stupidest stunt ever," Aaron reveals, adding: "I doubt I would go any higher than that."

"I felt absolutely terrible after both the Moruga salsa and Diablo Burrito videos."

"While my mouth was burning, the inferno in my stomach was at least 20 times worse."

"Recovery time is probably 24 hours for the insane spicy challenges."

"If it's a milder one, I recover pretty quickly, anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple of hours."

But while he clearly loved every second of his Moruga salsa challenge, have there ever been any fiercely fiery food challenges that were, well, not so hot as in terms of enjoyment?

"My least favourite spicy challenge was the Marine Burger challenge in Portland, Oregon."

This he did back in May 2011 at "a place appropriately called Killer Burger".

"It's a 20-minute challenge."

"It's a normal-sized burger and a side of fries, but the burger contains serrano peppers, habaneros and about four dried ghost peppers."

But that's not all.

"There's also a side of very spicy hot sauce that could have contained extract."

Not only must the challenger eat everything, the staff, Aaron explains, even "give you gloves to protect your hands".

We've read Aaron's blog entry about it and we suggest you do too.

It appears that he even had to sign a waiver before he could embark on the challenge.

Now, I've eaten some pretty hot curries in my time, but I've never had to sign anything like that down Brick Lane.

It sounds like the time that Rake bloke snook into North Korea.

Except they never gave him any grub.

trinidad moruga scorpion salsa's key ingredient
Hot stuff: The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. (Check bottom for credits.)

But despite his clear predilection for the perilously piquant, Aaron's not averse to eating foods that don't mandate the presence of a fire extinguisher.

"My most favourite challenge was a non-spicy one: the Tex-Ass Challenge at Voodoo Doughnut," he explains.

Filmed by his fellow food-fighting friend and Rake & Herald competitive eating editor Naader 'Freak8r' Reda, the challenge required Aaron to wolf down a one-pound glazed Tex-Ass doughnut in 80 seconds.

Needless to say he scoffed the lot in 50.

"One thing that people might not know is that I did this challenge after already consuming a Tex-Ass doughnut probably five minutes before."

And of course, this being Aaron, he'd smeared that one "with three hot sauces and downed it in 60" without any liquid assistance.

But how did he first get in touch with his latent gurgitational superpowers?

"After watching Adam Richman on Man v. Food," Aaron explains.

"One of the episodes in the first season took place in Portland."

"The Salvador Molly's habanero fritters was my first challenge."

"I finished it very quickly while my friend struggled."

They "both suffered later", he tells us.

However, while we have no idea what became of the friend, we do know that Aaron not only survived, but suddenly found himself "hooked on trying different challenges".

But should the likes of Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut and the Rake & Herald's own favourite alimentary athlete Sonya 'the Black Widow' Thomas be fearful that one day Asbestos Mouth Aaron might steal their crowns, thunder and, more importantly, their lunch?

Fortunately for them, it would seem not.

Unless, of course, he's bluffing.

"Frankly, I don't think of myself as a competitive eater," he says.

"I have no plans to turn pro or compete in any contests."

"I don't have the competitive-eater stomach capacity, even though I've eaten a few 3 lb [1.4 kg] meals."

Not that he doesn't have a few favourite gurgitators, mind.

In fact, he says, "there are too many to mention".

"Naader Reda has become one of my real good friends and I've had the privilege of watching a few of his challenges live."

"I also hope to meet Jamie 'the Bear' McDonald and Molly Schuyler one day."

Let's just hope they like hot food.

But while we probably won't be seeing Aaron going head-to-head with the Black Widow et al on a stage anytime soon, he is most definitely up for trying foods that most North Americans have never heard of, such as Jacob's Cream Crackers.

An edible institution in the UK as well as in such places as Hong Kong and Malaysia, these particular crackers are famous for drying the mouth out big time, making them notoriously difficult to eat rapidly without liquids.

I know because attempting such a feat was something of lunchtime tradition back in my school days, along with breaking into the staff room to swipe all the cigs and swig all the Scotch.

But it wasn't just Shit Street Comprehensive where such shenanigans went on.

Guinness World Records, for instance, even has its own Jacob's Cream Crackers challenge page, where the current fastest time for eating three one after the other stands at an impressive 33.03 seconds set by a Belgian bloke with a very nice shirt.

As alluded to above, I can personally attest to this challenge being far harder than it looks.

But what did the man who puts napalm on his bran think of it and could he eat the whole pack in 10 minutes?

"The Cream Cracker challenge was fun," Aaron says.

"I don't think I can eat the entire package of crackers in 10 minutes, though."

"The mouth would dry up too quickly without water."

Too bloody right!

"On a related matter, I want to do more videos with international foods," he reveals.

"I recently bought two boxes of Jaffa Cakes that I want to use in a future video."

Jaffa Cakes!

Shit hot!

But what the hell will these other UK gob sensations taste like smothered in Moruga salsa?

Shit hot, probably.

Anyway, while we at the Rake & Herald wait to have that confirmed, here's a treat for all of you but especially for our readers on this side of the Pond: Aaron takes on the three Cream Cracker Challenge.


See also A delicate hint of chilli, posted 17/9/12.

All the above videos are taken from Aaron's YouTube channel, AaronFoodAdventures, where you can watch shedloads more incredibly spicy and not so spicy challenges. Meanwhile, also check out Aaron's Twitter feed and his two blogs. The first deals with eating and eating challenges while the other covers pro wrestling, so if you ever want to wrestle a giant spicy burrito online, you now know where exactly to go. Big thanks, Aaron, for answering our questions. Good luck with the challenges and let us know when you crack open the Jaffa Cakes. Cream Crackers, by the way, go really well with butter and strawberry jam. I know. I've eaten tonnes. Just not against the clock.

Do you like our Sandi's scribblings? If so, why not befriend her on that Facebook thing? We don't let her out much, see, preferring instead to shackle her to her desk inside an indestructible cage (it's actually a Perspex box with a couple of air holes stabbed into it with a chisel). As such, she's terribly lonely and unloved. Please find it in your heart to help her before her constant whining drives us to kill her with a sharpened curtain rod. Remember, Sandi's life is in YOUR hands so get 'friending', or whatever the trendy modern verb is. Please. She's just started crying again.


1) The Indian Bhut Jolokia, or Ghost Pepper, has a rating of up to 1.58 million SHU. To give you some idea what that means, Tabasco Sauce is rated at between 2,500 SHU and 5,000 SHU while Rake & Herald fashion editor Kok Wang's farts clock up 832m SHU. And that's when he's not lighting them either.

2) Hey, never heard of journalistic licence?

3) As far as we know, he doesn't have an eater name but from now own he'll always be Aaron 'Asbestos Mouth' Wakamatsu to us, which we hope he takes as a compliment because otherwise he might just slap us with a writ. Although if he does, we'll simply cover it in the hottest sauce we can find and hope he eats it in a chili-fuelled feeding frenzy. Apparently, that's a legitimate defence in court. We hope.

FOOTNOTE UPDATE: We have just been informed by the man himself that he does already have an eater name: Spicochist. Does this mean we at the Rake & Herald have made a mistake? No. It means that Aaron Wakamatsu is now the only gurgitator on this planet with two eater names. If you don't include Patrick 'Deep Dish' Bertoletti, who used to be called 'PBert' for a bit. So well done, Aaron. I mean Asbestos Mouth. I mean Spicochist. Another world first for Aaron. And remember, you read it here on the Rake & Herald before anywhere else. Top stuff all round, I say, and thanks for letting us know, Spicochist!

Picture credits

Top and thumb: Trinidad's finest by Ramesh NG.

Bottom: The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion by Vicary Archangel.

For licensing information click the above links.

WARNING! Competitive eating can be dangerous. As well as choking hazards there is also the possibility of poisoning yourself, something that could lead to hospitalisation, permanent health damage and even death. Don't believe us? Read this. Consequently, the Rake & Herald does not recommend you try emulating the above video(s) yourself. Seriously. We are NOT joking. You have been warned.

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