How The Chubby Bunny Marshmallow Challenge Killed 2 People

The Internet is home to all sorts of trends, fads, and challenges. Most are pretty harmless, even if a bit ridiculous at times. And hey, to say that kids started doing "dumb stuff" only when the internet came out would be wildly untrue. Thankfully, most of what happens online is just a silly and harmless fad, at which you can laugh or roll your eyes before everyone moves on to the next thing. 

Unfortunately, there are some dangerous food challenges and fads that pose an actual risk to one's health and safety. The infamous cinnamon challenge, in which participants attempted to swallow straight cinnamon powder without coughing, was brought under fire out of concerns that it would trigger asthma attacks and damage people's lungs (via Forbes). Other TikTok trends have involved everything from eating cereal out of another person's mouth to driving one's car to the choreography of "Cha-Cha Slide," says the New York Post. Some of these challenges may sound harmless at first but can turn out to have unintended consequences, with the chubby bunny challenge being a prime example.

What was the chubby bunny challenge?

The chubby bunny challenge involves placing a marshmallow in one's mouth, but not chewing it, and saying a phrase that would be hard to say with a full mouth, like "chubby bunny" (via Fatherly). With every turn, another marshmallow is added to the player's mouth, and the process repeats. Whoever manages to fill their mouth with the most marshmallows and still say the phrase wins the challenge. The origins of the challenge aren't totally clear, but according to some sources, the roots of the game can be traced as far back as a 1959 "Peanuts" comic strip.

But if it's only a few marshmallows, what makes the challenge so dangerous? As you cram more and more marshmallows into your mouth, it becomes harder to breathe and begins to pose a risk of asphyxiation or choking. This was the unfortunate case for 12-year-old Chicagoan Catherine "Casey" Fish in 1999 and, later, 32-year-old Ontario woman Janet Rudd in 2006, per Meshbesher & Spence. Shockingly, both Fish and Rudd partook in the challenge at fun and lighthearted public events, and both collapsed from a lack of oxygen after choking on their marshmallows, which can be very hard to dislodge from the throat. It goes without saying, but some social media challenges pose unintended risks and should be attempted with caution.