Spicy Chip Challenge Blamed for Teen’s Death, Company Pulls Product from Shelves


The producer of a searingly spicy tortilla chip, known as the One Chip Challenge, popularized through a dare on social media, has recalled the product. This action followed accusations from the family of a Massachusetts teenager, suggesting the stunt resulted in his death.

The official cause of 14-year-old Harris Wolobah’s death remains undetermined with an autopsy still in progress. However, his family squarely attributes his demise to the notorious challenge. In the wake of his death, Texas-based manufacturer Paqui has implored retailers to cease selling the individually packaged chips, a precautionary measure already adopted by 7-Eleven.

Retailing at approximately $10, the One Chip Challenge comes enveloped in a sealed foil packet contained within a coffin-shaped cardboard box. The package cautionary label indicates that the chip serves the “vengeful pleasure of intense heat and pain,” is purposed for adults and should be securely kept away from children.

Paqui, a Hershey Company affiliate, communicated through a statement on its website that it was “deeply saddened by the death” of Wolobah. The company cited an upsurge in teens and other individuals disregarding these warnings. Consequently, despite the product meeting food safety standards, Paqui is working diligently with retailers to eliminate the product from shelves in an abundance of caution.

Massachusetts authorities have also responded to the incident by cautioning parents about the social media-fueled challenge. Numerous postings reveal people, including children, unsealing the packaging, consuming the spicy chip, and then exhibiting their reactions to the intense heat, often showcasing distressing physical reactions.

Prompted by the severity of the situation, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early urged parents to dissuade their children from partaking in this hazardous activity, citing examples of hospitalizations due to the chip challenge, including adolescents.

The challenge has evoked alarming health incidents across the nation, including three California high school students hospitalized after involvement in the challenge and paramedics attending to seven students in a Minnesota school following participation.

Medical experts, like Dr. Lauren Rice, the chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Tufts Medical Center, and Dr. Peter Chai of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, highlight the potential dangers of the capsaicin spice used in the tortilla chip’s formulation. At high doses, it could lead to fatal heart conditions; however, the risk depends on the amount ingested by each individual.

When Wolobah was discovered unresponsive at his residence, his family attributed his sudden demise to the consumption of the chip, advocating for its removal from store shelves.

Family friend, Douglas Hill, described Wolobah as a healthy child and emphasized the need for awareness around potential dangers of similar challenges. Douglas, a basketball league organizer and mentor to Wolobah, hosted an event in the teenager’s honor and arranged for a vigil, urging the importance of keeping children safe from harmful dare-based activities.

The One Chip Challenge packaging contains explicit guidelines, challenging purchasers to consume the entire chip, delay any intake of drink or food as long as possible, and then share their reaction on social media. Adverse reaction warnings are included, with advice to seek medical attention in case of shortness of breath, fainting, or prolonged nausea.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here