Posted February 20, 2007 by Jim Campbell in Makers

Fun with Chile Peppers…

The pepper supplier to the stars, Jim Campbell, has decided to join the ranks of the HSB writers and for his first foray into the HSB spotlight he has generously decided to share a excerpt from his upcoming book.

Chile peppers have been used as medicine for several thousand years now. Their medicinal properties have been employed at the firehouse on occasion as well. One of the more common uses was to help folks get over their addiction to smokeless tobacco products. “Chewing” has got to be one of the most rude and disgusting habits in existence in a group setting. Aside from the atrocious mess it made on apparatus bay floors and in the trash cans, more than once has someone accidentally grabbed the wrong soft drink can and too late discovered that instead of it being their diet Dr Pepper, it was someone elses’ improvised spit cup.

Personally I’d think it’d be hard to tell the two apart but those few times I saw it happen it left no doubt that the accidental victim knew pretty quick there was a difference!

One of the chewers- again even though there are no innocents in these stories- we’ll name ‘Al’. Al knew that it wasn’t a healthy habit and tried several times to quit. He foolishly indeed enlisted the help of his peers at the firehouse, knowing his buddies would only be too happy to help him see to it he quit. He asked them to point out when he reached for the chew or admonish him when they caught him chewing as he did it quite out of habit and wasn’t always aware he was doing it. His buddies, only too happy to oblige, ‘pointed it out’ by drilling him in the arm with a stinging right hook. Pretty soon his arm was black and blue and green and hanging pretty much useless at his side. Still, he continued to chew. Knowing that he was soon headed for a disability pension if the drilling continued, he asked that we do anything we could think of to help him stop chewing. Being concerned for the welfare of my brother firefighter and, knowing the medicinal properties of chile pepper, and firmly believing in the curative powers of the Red Savina® Habanero in particular, I unselfishly stepped up to the plate to try my hand at making him amend his ways as he requested. Al had (at the time) a habit of leaving his stash of chew unguarded. I took a pinch of it home and set to work. Carefully combining some of my stores of bright red habanero powder with some black 1 million Scoville extract, I set about trying to match the color, texture, and consistency of the chew.

Feeling as proud as Michaelangelo, after several attempts, I had a mix that was indistinguishable as compared to the regular chew. So armed, it was time to help a brother out in his hour of need.

It was only a shift or two before Al once again left his can of chew unguarded. In went the mix. It was then only a matter of a few minutes before he came back for it- barely enough time to duck out of the way, while he took the bait. He took off to start the morning check out on his fire truck. Al was an Engineer, the driver, and this is a task that usually takes a half hour or more. He took his usual large wad of chew, and after a couple of serrupticious glances about to make sure no one saw him, he greedily stuffed it between his cheek and gum.

He had bought a one way, non refundable ticket to enlightenment As related to me later, the nicotine and flavorings in the chew have a tendency to numb the mouth a bit at the start- a bit of synergistic chemistry I hadn’t considered. Thus, it was at least a minute or two before Al realized he had bought a one way, non refundable ticket to enlightenment. It hit with all the fury of an ex-wife seeking your pay raise. He managed one scream of terror and agony before a seizure of wild eyed panic took hold of him and sent him on several laps around the firetruck. Most of the other crews had assembled to watch the spectacle, being drawn to the sound of the commotion like wolves to the screams of a wounded animal. They stood there with me, admiring the healing power of peppers. Of course several had known in advance of what was about to take place and were with me in a discreet viewing spot when he first dropped in the chew. Out in the open now, we shouted to him, voicing words of encouragement as he made his frenzied dash about the place. While he made his laps we commented favorably on his here to for unseen agility and speed. On about his fourth or fifth trip, he spied a garden hose and raced to it like a sinner seeking salvation. He put it into his mouth and pulled the trigger.

There are two types of garden hoses in the apparatus bay. One is your normal everyday garden variety garden hose, used for filling mop buckets, rinsing your hands, and washing your car- it puts out about 5 gallons per minute. The other is a high pressure, high volume hose that is used for washing the firetrucks and apparatus bay floors- putting out almost 50. I needn’t tell you which one he grabbed. He had water squirting out of his ears! We had it running down our faces from crying with laughter. Some of the tears we had there were likely tears of joy also though, knowing that we had gone above and beyond the call of duty to bring better health to a brother and help him try and shed the habit of the evil weed.

He stopped chewing for almost a week.

It was a month and several more hard lessons though before he learned to stop leaving his chew lying about.

Mild to Wild Pepper & Herb Co.

Jim Campbell