Paqui's Viral One Chip Challenge Accused Of Causing Teen's Death

Fans of spicy foods have been growing thanks to trends such as the Paqui One Chip Challenge and pop culture staples like the hit YouTube series Hot Ones. While most spice enjoyers are content to add a few extra jalapenos or a few gracious glugs of buffalo sauce to their favorite meal, others have taken on challenges that see them attempting to consume the highest quantity of capsaicin humanly possible.

Unfortunately, per a report from WCVB, a recent example of the One Chip Challenge has ended in an unspeakable tragedy. A 14-year-old boy named Harris Wolobah from Worcester, Massachusetts, has died just hours after attempting the challenge at school. According to the teenager's parents, Harris had no known allergies or pre-existing conditions and lived a generally active and healthy lifestyle. While there is no confirmed correlation to the One Chip Challenge at this time, coroners are looking into Wolobah's cause of death, with more answers sure to come as autopsy results are revealed.

What is the Paqui One Chip Challenge?

The challenge was first launched by the chip company Paqui in 2016 and features a single chip packaged in a daunting coffin-shaped box. Each year, there is a concerted effort to make the corn chip hotter than any that came before, with the 2023 edition utilizing Carolina Reaper and Naga Viper peppers. The challenge is often intended to be filmed for the humorous reaction to the extreme heat to be shared on social media. However, the product's packaging clearly holds a number of safety warnings, such as "Keep out of reach of children," "Intended for adult consumption," and "Seek medical assistance should you experience difficulty breathing, fainting, or extended nausea."

While extreme heat can be very painful to the untrained consumer, most food scientists tend to agree that there are no lasting health issues associated with capsaicin consumption, as the spice lacks the ability to damage the body's cells. The heat produced from spicy foods is an evolutionary tool for peppers, which is meant to mimic that of an actual burn to discourage animal species from destroying the plants. However, dietary responses such as nausea, upset stomach, and digestive problems can arise from eating extra spicy foods, and the 2023 Paqui chip could spark an allergic reaction due to its pepper and nightshade content.