The most dangerous social media food challenges

A Massachusetts teenager is believed to have died after attempting the Paqui One Chip challenge, leading to the product being pulled from shelves. This is not the first time that dangerous and harmful food challenges have taken the internet by storm.

1. Paqui One Chip challenge

The Pacqui One Chip challenge tests a person’s ability to withstand spice. A person consumes the individually packaged Pacqui chip and sees “how long they can go without consuming other food and water,” reported The Associated Press. The chip is seasoned with two of the hottest peppers, the Carolina Reaper and the Naga Viper. The challenge became popular on TikTok. While the chip is marketed for adults, children and teens have been able to get their hands on it. 

Spicy food can be dangerous for some as your body mistakes it for a body temperature rise causing “lots of sweat and expanding blood vessels to allow more body heat to dissipate through the skin,” Forbes wrote. The body also tries to dispel the capsaicin, the compound that makes food spicy, resulting in a runny nose and tears. It could also cause nausea and vomiting. For those with underlying medical conditions or higher sensitivity, the impact could even be deadly. “This is another situation where it’s important to listen to your body,” Forbes wrote. “If your body is reacting very badly to something then that should be a hint that it is not good for you.”

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2. Cinnamon challenge

Ten years ago, the cinnamon challenge was all the rage, resulting in many hospital visits. The challenge involved attempting to swallow a spoonful of powdered cinnamon without any water in one minute. “This is a dangerous practice which can result in choking, aspiration of cinnamon powder into the lungs, and even respiratory failure requiring a ventilator in extreme cases,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, told CBS News.

When swallowed, the powder has the potential to enter the esophagus and lungs, potentially causing choking, scarred lung tissue, and even collapsed lungs in extreme cases. “People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are at greater risk of having this result in shortness of breath and trouble breathing,” according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

3. Sprite and banana challenge

The Sprite and banana challenge is making its rounds on Tiktok, wreaking havoc on stomachs. The challenge entails “eating two bananas and then drinking a bottle of Sprite as soon as possible,” explained Dexerto. The result is usually vomiting caused by the chemical reaction that takes place in your stomach after consuming both items consecutively. 

“Bananas contain protein, and Sprite has carbon dioxide,” explained SK Pop. “Mixing the two with stomach acid, causes reflux.” The trend started blowing up in October of 2022 after a popular streamer took to the challenge. 

4. Salt and ice challenge

While not through eating, the salt and ice challenge caused a number of health complications. For the challenge, a person puts “table salt on exposed skin, add[s] an ice cube, and then hold[s] it there as long as they can tolerate the pain,” according to KCRG. The combination can cause second and third-degree burns and even frostbite. 

“It’s a chemistry experiment on your own skin,”  Dr. Thomas Granchi, director of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Burn Treatment Center, told KCRG. “Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but adding salt causes the freezing point to drop as low as 0 degrees,” explained CBS News. “When applying ice, energy is pulled from what’s nearby – in this case, heat from a kid’s skin.” Some of the damage is so severe it requires skin grafts to treat. 

5. Tide Pod challenge

This deadly “challenge,” stemming from online jokes about Tide laundry pods appearing appetizing, had many children eating the pods, which are obviously not meant for consumption. The prevalence of the trend prompted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) as well as Tide to post warnings against eating the pods. 

The detergent contains chemicals that are poisonous to humans causing a number of hospital admissions and deaths, especially among younger children. “This is what started out as a joke on the Internet and now it’s just gone too far,” Ann Marie Buerkle of the USCPSC told CBS News.

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