The One Chip Challenge is a crazy internet challenge where you have to eat one super spicy tortilla chip and see how long you can go without drinking anything. It sounds like fun, but it can be really dangerous, as one teen tragically found out.
The chip is made with Carolina Reaper Pepper and Naga Viper Pepper, which are some of the hottest peppers in the world. They can cause severe burning in your mouth, throat and stomach, and even make you faint, vomit or have trouble breathing. Some people have even died after doing the challenge.
The family of a Massachusetts teen who died last week reportedly believes his death was caused by eating a spicy chip as part of a challenge advertised on a snack company’s website.
Although Harris Wolobah’s cause of death has not yet been confirmed to be related to the One Chip Challenge, Fox News Digital reported that those chips have now been removed from shelves “out of an abundance of caution,” the company, Paqui LLC, said in a statement posted on its website.
Wolobah reportedly ate the chip at school and became sick. His family then picked him up and he started to feel better — but he was later found passed out and was taken to a hospital, where he died, FOX Business reported.
“Any time you’re sort of testing the body to its maximum, bad things can happen,” Bradford Holland, M.D., an otolaryngologist in Central Texas, told Fox News Digital.
“They have formulated this [chip] to have extremely high doses of capsaicin, which can be a toxic substance to the body,” he added. “Although most people can tolerate it, some people can’t.”
Sarah Soden, director of the division of developmental and behavioral health at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, agreed.
“Any time we are doing an activity that goes against our body’s own natural instinct to protect itself, we can get hurt,” Soden told Fox News Digital. “Choking is a risk with an activity like this.”
The “One Chip Challenge” is part of a marketing campaign by Paqui, a Texas-based company that sells tortilla chips.
“It can be an extreme irritant, so that’s where you can get into trouble. Typically, we don’t see life-threatening injuries, but it can be very uncomfortable,” Holland added.
He explained that for someone without medical problems, high doses of capsaicin can cause mouth burns and esophageal burns, stomach issues, nausea and vomiting, which are not that uncommon.
But if saliva-laden capsaicin gets into the lungs, it can cause pneumonitis — an inflammation that can be serious, especially for people with preexisting conditions.
“Certainly, if someone is prone to having heart or cardiovascular disease, this could be the inciting event that pushes them over to heart attack or stroke,” he said.
“One Chip Challenge” participants who can make it one hour without eating or drinking anything are deemed “invincible,” according to the Paqui website. But the chips do, however, come with a warning on the Paqui website, including keeping the chip out of children’s reach, avoiding the chip for those who are pregnant or have any medical conditions or who are sensitive to spicy foods or allergic to peppers or capsaicin.