After years of living the rockstar lifestyle, Troy “Primo” Primeaux needed something family oriented to occupy his time–particularly something that didn’t involve drugs or alcohol. A grower at heart, Primeaux started his love affair with peppers.
His claim to fame–the 7 Pot Primo– was developed in 2005 while working at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Horticulture Department.
The 7 Pot Primo, depending on who you ask, very well may be the hottest pepper in the world. It boasts a “face melting” 1.5 million Scoville heat units, about 300 times hotter than your average jalapeño.
That award-winning pepper and his continued work in the pepper community landed him in the new Hulu docuseries Superhot: The Spicy World of Pepper People.
Primeaux says that the peppers are “an obsession,” noting that other people in the industry have struggled to maintain a work-life balance.
“There’s a guy in the movie [whose] wife’s like, you gotta quit. You gotta quit peppers. You know, you gotta quit your podcast. You don’t spend enough time with us, with family. So there’s a balancing act there.”
For Primeaux, family is the cornerstone of his work. He hopes that his 4-year-old son Hudson will inherit the pepper throne, and he credits his wife Kara for her indispensable input in the production process.
“Kara has an incredible palette,” he says. “All these products you know, she’s the halo, I’m the horns. She has the sweet and I have the heat. Without her I couldn’t be doing it.”
While he didn’t directly pursue pepper production as a means to aid with addiction, he feels that he might have unconsciously. He notes that spicy food has been shown to invoke the body’s production of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals, in a similar fashion to a “runner’s high”. The paradox proposed by the peppers gets Primeaux philosophical:
“We’re not meant to eat them. We’re meant to shun them away [as] deadly nightshade family plants,” he says. “Did the peppers kind of think that we’d get addicted to them and that we would make them the exalted ones? There’s a whole psychology behind it.”
There’s certainly a thread between capsaicin and addiction: a study done in 2017 by the Korean Neuropsychiatric Association found that those with an alcohol dependence were more likely to prefer spicy food.
As for the future of Primo’s Peppers, business is booming. After the series premiere, Primeaux found himself flooded with hundreds of new orders – which he’s been packaging himself. With a new facility in Broussard slated to be ready in a few months, Primeaux will be in a better position to scale up production.
“It’s a good problem to have, you know,” he says. “It just tells me that people watched it and identify with it, and they saw something in us that they believe in. That’s all you can ask for.”