Over the last few years, thousands of people have attempted to go viral on social media by eating an unbelievably hot tortilla chip. Branded the “One Chip Challenge” by the Austin-based company Paqui, the super spicy snack came packaged in a coffin-shaped box that dared eaters to wait as long as possible before drinking anything after ingestion. This led to countless videos online where people pleaded for water or shoveled ice cream into their mouths as a result of this chip dusted in Carolina Reaper and Naga Viper peppers.
Although every $9.99 box contained a warning that the One Chip Challenge was meant only for adults and could be dangerous for children, that did not stop many young people from taking on the challenge themselves. Medical emergencies would then frequently follow, such as one incident in New Mexico where about 30 students experienced health issues after eating the chip. A school district in Colorado then banned the One Chip Challenge, followed by a study from the University of Mississippi Medical Center that detailed the “serious complications” that can occur when adolescents ingest the Carolina Reaper pepper. Still, the worst occurred last month when a 14-year-old in Massachusetts died hours after doing the One Chip Challenge at school.
Following this tragedy, representatives from Paqui announced that the company would pull the One Chip Challenge from store shelves immediately and remove it from their online shop. “The Paqui One Chip Challenge is intended for adults only, with clear and prominent labeling highlighting the chip is not for children,” said the Hershey-owned company in a statement. “We have seen an increase in teens and other individuals not heeding these warnings.” Paqui also removed marketing slogans from its website that asked “How long can you last before you spiral out?” along with special rankings based on the length of time someone went without water after doing the challenge. Only time will tell if Paqui will eventually face lawsuits over their controversial product, or if the warnings on the One Chip Challenge’s packaging will ultimately provide it with legal cover.
- Do you think Paqui could have done more to keep children from buying the One Chip Challenge?
- Do you think Paqui should face legal action for selling a dangerous product? Why or why not?
Sources: Rebecca Carballo and Remy Tumin, “Fatality Draws Scrutiny to Spicy ‘One Chip Challenge’ Product,” The New York Times, September 6, 2023; Remy Tumin, “Paqui ‘One Chip Challenge’ Is Being Pulled From Shelves,” The New York Times, September 7, 2023. Photo by TheChiliLife.