The peter pepper, Capsicum annuum var. annuum, is an heirloom chili pepper that is best known for its unusual shape. It is a type of Capsicum annuum, though it is not officially recognized as a cultivar of the species. It occurs in red and yellow varieties.The pepper is considered very rare, and its origin is unknown.The pepper is most commonly grown in East Texas and Louisiana, although it is grown in Mexico, as well. It was first popularized in the United States by Frank X. Tolbert in his Dallas Morning News column about obscure local history, although he saw the pepper only once in his life. It has since been studied by horticulture experts at the University of Texas at Austin and Louisiana State University. Though it is rare, its seeds are available from some private suppliers. It is adaptable to a variety of growing conditions. The seeds have also been exported to Asian countries, including South Korea.The pepper has often been noted for its phallic appearance when fully grown. The pepper, particularly the red variety, has been described as a “miniature replica of the uncircumcised male organ”. The pod of the pepper is wrinkled and has a round tip with a cleft. It is approximately 3 to 4 inches in length, and 1 to 1.5 inches wide when fully mature. The pod of the pepper has also been noted for its pungency.
As it has a very high Scoville rating, the pepper has been suggested for ornamental use rather than human consumption. It is sometimes pickled, though.
It was described by Frank X. Tolbert, a Texas journalist, historian, and chili enthusiast in one of his columns called “Tolbert’s Texas” he wrote for the Dallas Morning News. Jean Andrews, in her book Peppers: the domesticated Capsicums, states the peter pepper did have all the qualifications “to be honored by the pen” of Mr. Tolbert, who wrote about “little-known facts about little-known things that occur in little-known places in Texas”. Ms. Andrews described how hard it was to get the seed of this “little-known things that occur in little-known places” that she needed to study, but eventually she got the seeds, and was amused to see how “resulting pods naturally and consistently contorted themselves into a miniature replica of the circumcised male organ.