What is the 'One Chip Challenge'? The viral social media trend explained...

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By stefan armitage

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In a heartbreaking incident that has stunned communities and social media users alike, 14-year-old Harris Wolobah passed away after partaking in the infamous "One Chip Challenge".

At this time, an autopsy is pending to confirm the official cause of the Massachusetts teenager's death.

However, Harris' family has said in a GoFundMe that they suspect his death to be down to "complications due to the 'one chip challenge'".

As a result, many people are now asking 'What is the One Chip Challenge?' and how dangerous is extremely spicy food?

Harris Wolobah: 'A Life Cut Short'

As reported by NBC Boston, Harris' mother was summoned to Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, on September 1 after her son started complaining of a stomachache.

The tenth-grade student had consumed a spicy tortilla chip that had allegedly been given to him by a classmate. The exceedingly spicy snack was reportedly the '2023 One Chip Challenge', created by the company Paqui.

After being picked up and brought home by his family, Wolobah reportedly started to feel better. However, his mom says that he was later found "unresponsive and not breathing" before he was about to leave for basketball tryouts.

Despite being rushed to a nearby hospital, the 14-year-old was soon pronounced dead.

As previously mentioned, an autopsy is currently pending to determine the exact cause of Harris' untimely death.

A Tribute To An 'Incredibly Talented Young Man'

Days after Harris' tragic death, his family set up a GoFundMe in order to raise funds to assist with funeral costs.

Paying tribute to the teenager, Harris' cousin writes how Harris "passed away unexpectedly at the age of 14" from what they "suspect to be complications due to the 'one chip challenge' (autopsy pending)."

"The pain our family is experiencing is unimaginable," the description continues. "Harris was a light that lit up the room with his presence and subtle charm. He was an intelligent, quirky, and incredibly talented young man who loved video games and playing basketball!"

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Harris died at the age of 14. Credit: GoFundMe

The page adds that the family is planning on laying Harris to rest within the next few weeks, and asked for donations "to alleviate the burden of funeral expenses for his parents and siblings during this incredibly difficult time."

Additionally, the Worcester public school community also paid tribute to the teen, who they described as a "rising star".

Worcester Schools Superintendent Rachel Monarrez said, via Boston 25: "As a mother and educator, I cannot imagine how hard this is on his family, friends, and teachers. My heart goes out to all who knew and loved him."

Douglas Hill, Harris' basketball coach for the St. Bernard’s church team, also described him as a dedicated hard worker.

What is the 'One Chip Challenge'?

The "One Chip Challenge" is both a product and marketing gimmick by Paqui, a tortilla chip company, that dares participants to eat an extraordinarily spicy chip and last as long as possible without any relief.

Although the company has made several versions of the 'One Chip Challenge', the current '2023 One Chip Challenge' chips contain "blue corn, sunflower and/or safflower oil, Carolina Reaper Pepper, Naga Viper Pepper, and sea salt", via the Paqui website.

Videos of customers attempting to consume the spicy tortilla chip have gone viral on platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube. With a hashtag, "#onechipchallenge," videos have accumulated a staggering two billion views on TikTok, per the Daily Mail.

On the official Paqui website, instructions for the challenge are simple, reading: "Eat the entire chip. Wait as long as possible before drinking or eating anything. Post your reaction on social media with #onechipchallenge and mention @paquichips".

Consumer Warnings: Are They Enough?

The single chip is packaged in a coffin-shaped box adorned with a red skull, emphasizing its extreme potency.

Paqui's official website issues a cautionary note: "Keep out of reach of children. Intended for adult consumption."

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The warnings as listed on the Paqui 'One Chip Challenge' website. Credit: Paqui

The site also urges people to seek immediate medical assistance for symptoms such as "difficulty breathing, fainting, or extended nausea." Yet, despite these warnings, social media remains abuzz with daring participants eager to test their pain tolerance.

Ingredients Behind the Heat: What Makes the Chips So Hot?

The fiery chips - manufactured since 2016 by Texas-based Amplify Snack Brands (later acquired by The Hershey Company in 2017) -  boast a list of fearsome ingredients. Two of the most potent peppers, the California Reaper Pepper and the Naga Viper Pepper, measure astronomically high on the Scoville Scale, a scale used to measure the heat of chili peppers.

For context, the California Reaper Pepper is officially the world's hottest pepper, clocking in at up to 2.2 million Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), per LoveMyChillies. Guinness World Records recognizes the Carolina Reaper as the world's "hottest chilli pepper", but lists its SHUs at 1,641,183.

The Naga Viper Pepper trails closely behind at 1,382,118 SHUs.

The Paqui site reads: "This year's vicious chip contains Carolina Reaper Pepper and Naga Viper Pepper for a truly twisted experience."

Is the 'One Chip Challenge' Safe? What The Experts Have To Say...

The National Capital Poison Center (Poison.org) recently published an article regarding the 'One Chip Challenge' by Medical Toxicologist Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD.

Johnson-Arbor states that "the hot or spicy sensation felt in the mouth and throat after eating chili peppers is due to the presence of capsaicin". Dr. Johnson-Arbor also states that the spiciness felt by people can vary among individuals - meaning that not everybody will feel the heat the same way.

"Capsaicin consumption typically causes mouth and throat pain but can also result in more serious health problems including heart attack and esophageal damage," Dr. Johnson-Arbor adds.

Although the latter cases are incredibly rare, Dr. Johnson-Arbor stresses that "people should use caution when consuming foods or products that contain capsaicin".

Last year, pediatrician Dr. Brett Christiansen also shared his thoughts with TODAY Parents after schools started banning the One Chip Challenge.

Dr. Christiansen said at the time: "The ingredient that makes these peppers so hot is the same found in pepper spray.

"If it was to get into the eyes or nose, it could result in a serious burning sensation there as well. Worse, if it was accidentally inhaled, which I can imagine happening if someone was to gasp when biting into the chip and noting the heat, it could lead to bronchospasm, be a trigger for asthma, or at the least, lead to severe coughing."

What Paqui Has Said...

Nevertheless, a representative for Paqui responded to TODAY Parents (in September 2022), telling the outlet that the One Chip Challenge "can be fun for those who understand what they are taking on".

"We take safety very seriously and have worked hard to ensure our products are properly and clearly labeled with allergen and safety information," the brand said in its written statement to TODAY Parents. "It is our intent that consumers take on this challenge with a full understanding of what it is and if it is appropriate for them."

The representative's statement emphasized that the company clearly labels the product as being "notoriously hot", adding that it "should be handled with extreme care".

"Our One Chip Challenge packaging includes a safety disclaimer noting that it should not be ingested by individuals who are sensitive to spicy foods, allergic to peppers, nightshades, or capsaicin, or who are minors, pregnant or have medical conditions," the statement added.

Other Alarming Incidents

Although an autopsy is yet to officially link Harris' death to his reported attempt at the One Chip Challenge, this is not the first time the spicy chip has been surrounded by controversy.

Last year, one high schooler shared a video to social media showing her in the hospital after attempting the One Chip Challenge. The New York Post says she was bet $50 to eat the Paqui chip, and that it took several hours for medications to ease her stomach pain.

Fox9 also reported last October that paramedics had to be sent to a middle school in Edina, Minnesota, in order to attend to several students who complained of having "difficulty breathing and eye pain", according to an email sent by the school to parents.

Additionally, TODAY Parents reports that last September, three middle school students in Tyler, Texas were hospitalized after attempting to consume the tortilla chip.

At the time, chief communications officer for Tyler Independent School District Jennifer Hines said in a press release: "This social media challenge has been around for a few years now and is still causing a safety and security issue for our students."

"We had another student taken to the hospital in 2021," Hines' statement continued. "Parents, please speak with your children about the seriousness of what could happen when they try to do these social media challenges. We love your children and want them to be safe and healthy."

VT has reached out to Paqui for a comment...

Featured image credit: MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

What is the 'One Chip Challenge'? The viral social media trend explained...

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

In a heartbreaking incident that has stunned communities and social media users alike, 14-year-old Harris Wolobah passed away after partaking in the infamous "One Chip Challenge".

At this time, an autopsy is pending to confirm the official cause of the Massachusetts teenager's death.

However, Harris' family has said in a GoFundMe that they suspect his death to be down to "complications due to the 'one chip challenge'".

As a result, many people are now asking 'What is the One Chip Challenge?' and how dangerous is extremely spicy food?

Harris Wolobah: 'A Life Cut Short'

As reported by NBC Boston, Harris' mother was summoned to Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, on September 1 after her son started complaining of a stomachache.

The tenth-grade student had consumed a spicy tortilla chip that had allegedly been given to him by a classmate. The exceedingly spicy snack was reportedly the '2023 One Chip Challenge', created by the company Paqui.

After being picked up and brought home by his family, Wolobah reportedly started to feel better. However, his mom says that he was later found "unresponsive and not breathing" before he was about to leave for basketball tryouts.

Despite being rushed to a nearby hospital, the 14-year-old was soon pronounced dead.

As previously mentioned, an autopsy is currently pending to determine the exact cause of Harris' untimely death.

A Tribute To An 'Incredibly Talented Young Man'

Days after Harris' tragic death, his family set up a GoFundMe in order to raise funds to assist with funeral costs.

Paying tribute to the teenager, Harris' cousin writes how Harris "passed away unexpectedly at the age of 14" from what they "suspect to be complications due to the 'one chip challenge' (autopsy pending)."

"The pain our family is experiencing is unimaginable," the description continues. "Harris was a light that lit up the room with his presence and subtle charm. He was an intelligent, quirky, and incredibly talented young man who loved video games and playing basketball!"

size-large wp-image-1263227053
Harris died at the age of 14. Credit: GoFundMe

The page adds that the family is planning on laying Harris to rest within the next few weeks, and asked for donations "to alleviate the burden of funeral expenses for his parents and siblings during this incredibly difficult time."

Additionally, the Worcester public school community also paid tribute to the teen, who they described as a "rising star".

Worcester Schools Superintendent Rachel Monarrez said, via Boston 25: "As a mother and educator, I cannot imagine how hard this is on his family, friends, and teachers. My heart goes out to all who knew and loved him."

Douglas Hill, Harris' basketball coach for the St. Bernard’s church team, also described him as a dedicated hard worker.

What is the 'One Chip Challenge'?

The "One Chip Challenge" is both a product and marketing gimmick by Paqui, a tortilla chip company, that dares participants to eat an extraordinarily spicy chip and last as long as possible without any relief.

Although the company has made several versions of the 'One Chip Challenge', the current '2023 One Chip Challenge' chips contain "blue corn, sunflower and/or safflower oil, Carolina Reaper Pepper, Naga Viper Pepper, and sea salt", via the Paqui website.

Videos of customers attempting to consume the spicy tortilla chip have gone viral on platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube. With a hashtag, "#onechipchallenge," videos have accumulated a staggering two billion views on TikTok, per the Daily Mail.

On the official Paqui website, instructions for the challenge are simple, reading: "Eat the entire chip. Wait as long as possible before drinking or eating anything. Post your reaction on social media with #onechipchallenge and mention @paquichips".

Consumer Warnings: Are They Enough?

The single chip is packaged in a coffin-shaped box adorned with a red skull, emphasizing its extreme potency.

Paqui's official website issues a cautionary note: "Keep out of reach of children. Intended for adult consumption."

size-large wp-image-1263227051
The warnings as listed on the Paqui 'One Chip Challenge' website. Credit: Paqui

The site also urges people to seek immediate medical assistance for symptoms such as "difficulty breathing, fainting, or extended nausea." Yet, despite these warnings, social media remains abuzz with daring participants eager to test their pain tolerance.

Ingredients Behind the Heat: What Makes the Chips So Hot?

The fiery chips - manufactured since 2016 by Texas-based Amplify Snack Brands (later acquired by The Hershey Company in 2017) -  boast a list of fearsome ingredients. Two of the most potent peppers, the California Reaper Pepper and the Naga Viper Pepper, measure astronomically high on the Scoville Scale, a scale used to measure the heat of chili peppers.

For context, the California Reaper Pepper is officially the world's hottest pepper, clocking in at up to 2.2 million Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), per LoveMyChillies. Guinness World Records recognizes the Carolina Reaper as the world's "hottest chilli pepper", but lists its SHUs at 1,641,183.

The Naga Viper Pepper trails closely behind at 1,382,118 SHUs.

The Paqui site reads: "This year's vicious chip contains Carolina Reaper Pepper and Naga Viper Pepper for a truly twisted experience."

Is the 'One Chip Challenge' Safe? What The Experts Have To Say...

The National Capital Poison Center (Poison.org) recently published an article regarding the 'One Chip Challenge' by Medical Toxicologist Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD.

Johnson-Arbor states that "the hot or spicy sensation felt in the mouth and throat after eating chili peppers is due to the presence of capsaicin". Dr. Johnson-Arbor also states that the spiciness felt by people can vary among individuals - meaning that not everybody will feel the heat the same way.

"Capsaicin consumption typically causes mouth and throat pain but can also result in more serious health problems including heart attack and esophageal damage," Dr. Johnson-Arbor adds.

Although the latter cases are incredibly rare, Dr. Johnson-Arbor stresses that "people should use caution when consuming foods or products that contain capsaicin".

Last year, pediatrician Dr. Brett Christiansen also shared his thoughts with TODAY Parents after schools started banning the One Chip Challenge.

Dr. Christiansen said at the time: "The ingredient that makes these peppers so hot is the same found in pepper spray.

"If it was to get into the eyes or nose, it could result in a serious burning sensation there as well. Worse, if it was accidentally inhaled, which I can imagine happening if someone was to gasp when biting into the chip and noting the heat, it could lead to bronchospasm, be a trigger for asthma, or at the least, lead to severe coughing."

What Paqui Has Said...

Nevertheless, a representative for Paqui responded to TODAY Parents (in September 2022), telling the outlet that the One Chip Challenge "can be fun for those who understand what they are taking on".

"We take safety very seriously and have worked hard to ensure our products are properly and clearly labeled with allergen and safety information," the brand said in its written statement to TODAY Parents. "It is our intent that consumers take on this challenge with a full understanding of what it is and if it is appropriate for them."

The representative's statement emphasized that the company clearly labels the product as being "notoriously hot", adding that it "should be handled with extreme care".

"Our One Chip Challenge packaging includes a safety disclaimer noting that it should not be ingested by individuals who are sensitive to spicy foods, allergic to peppers, nightshades, or capsaicin, or who are minors, pregnant or have medical conditions," the statement added.

Other Alarming Incidents

Although an autopsy is yet to officially link Harris' death to his reported attempt at the One Chip Challenge, this is not the first time the spicy chip has been surrounded by controversy.

Last year, one high schooler shared a video to social media showing her in the hospital after attempting the One Chip Challenge. The New York Post says she was bet $50 to eat the Paqui chip, and that it took several hours for medications to ease her stomach pain.

Fox9 also reported last October that paramedics had to be sent to a middle school in Edina, Minnesota, in order to attend to several students who complained of having "difficulty breathing and eye pain", according to an email sent by the school to parents.

Additionally, TODAY Parents reports that last September, three middle school students in Tyler, Texas were hospitalized after attempting to consume the tortilla chip.

At the time, chief communications officer for Tyler Independent School District Jennifer Hines said in a press release: "This social media challenge has been around for a few years now and is still causing a safety and security issue for our students."

"We had another student taken to the hospital in 2021," Hines' statement continued. "Parents, please speak with your children about the seriousness of what could happen when they try to do these social media challenges. We love your children and want them to be safe and healthy."

VT has reached out to Paqui for a comment...

Featured image credit: MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images