Marcus Banwell, 39, stole a handful of chillies from an Asian food shop.
Moments later, he was discovered doubled-over in pain, coughing and vomiting on the pavement, a major newspaper reported.
Police found a further four peppers in his pockets, a stolen milk-shake and fruit juice.
Scotch Bonnets are one of the hottest chillies with a heat rating of 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units, compared with 2,500 to 8,500 for a jalapeno.
Bristol magistrates heard that Banwell raided Singh Stores, in the St Pauls area of the city, on August 4.
The suspicious shopkeeper followed him and found him on the ground.
Banwell, of Fishponds, Bristol, claimed he had picked up the clarinet from a “free shop” – but officers also found paper wraps containing crack cocaine and heroin.
He has been jailed for 14 weeks.