What is the One Chip Challenge that killed a teenager?

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulSep 06, 2023 | 16:36

What is the One Chip Challenge that killed a teenager?

The One Chip Challenge has emerged as the latest viral sensation on social media, captivating the adventurous spirits of countless individuals seeking thrills and online fame. Unfortunately, this dare, like its predecessors, has taken a dark turn, resulting in the tragic death of a teenager.

What is the One Chip Challenge?

In the spicy spectacle, daring souls consume a Paqui tortilla chip, rumoured to be the hottest on the planet, and then cling to their pride as they endure the fiery aftermath without guzzling water or milk.


It's a battle against the elements, where your taste buds are pitted against pure, unadulterated spiciness. 

Not for the faint-stomached

The One Chip Challenge isn't for the faint of heart, or stomach, for that matter. Paqui's diabolical creation arrives in a coffin-shaped box, an ominous harbinger of the gastronomic rollercoaster ahead.

Inside, it harbours a blend of the Carolina Reaper Pepper and the Scorpion Pepper, two chili varieties renowned for their merciless heat.

  • The Carolina Reaper boasts up to 2.2 million Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), a measure of spiciness that sends a shiver down the spine of even the most hardened spice enthusiasts.
  • The Naga Viper Pepper, lurking just beneath on the SHU scale at 1,382,118, ensures that this chip is a true menace to taste buds everywhere.

When you take on the One Chip Challenge, you're not just signing up for an intense flavour experience; you're entering the ring with capsaicin, the spicy compound that chili peppers use as their secret weapon. Your body's response? Swelling, nausea, vomiting, eye pain, diarrhea, abdominal pain, heartburn, and headaches.

How long can one last?

Paqui frames the challenge as a test of one's mettle, asking, "How long can you last before you spiral out?" They've even gamified it, with a time-based ranking system that ranges from "powerless" for one minute of survival to "invincible" for enduring the chip's inferno for an hour.


Participants, eager to earn bragging rights and Instagram-worthy reactions, document their ordeals for the world to see.

A tragic death

On September 1, 14-year-old Harris Wolobah's life was abruptly cut short after he consumed the Paqui tortilla chip as part of this viral challenge.

  • While the exact cause of his death remains under investigation, his family suspects that the chip he ate shortly before collapsing may have played a role in this devastating outcome.

While Paqui's website includes warnings that their chips are "intended for adult consumption" and should be kept out of children's reach, these cautions have not deterred teenagers across the United States from attempting the challenge.

  • The company even advises individuals who consume their chips and experience "difficulty breathing, fainting, or extended nausea" to seek medical assistance promptly.

Paqui, a Texas-based brand under the umbrella of The Hershey Company, has been in the hot seat over this spicy fiasco. The company emphasises that consumers should approach the challenge with a full understanding of its intensity and whether it is suitable for them. They also advise individuals experiencing severe symptoms to seek immediate medical help.

The concerns

Despite Paqui's efforts and warnings, the One Chip Challenge has sparked serious concerns.

  • Reports of people being hospitalised in agony after attempting the challenge have prompted regulatory scrutiny. Several US states, including California, Texas, and Alabama, have seen hospitalisations linked to the dare.
  • In the UK, the Food Standards Agency has acknowledged these reports and expressed its commitment to ensuring the safety of food on the market.

Social media, the modern arena for viral dares and challenges, has played a leading role in this fiery spectacle. Videos of brave (or perhaps foolhardy) participants have garnered millions of views on TikTok and other platforms, perpetuating the challenge's allure. 

  • But this phenomenon has also raised alarms among child safety advocates, like the UK's 5Rights, who call for stricter regulations to protect youngsters from such scorching temptations.

The tragic case of Harris Wolobah serves as a stark reminder of the potential dangers associated with the viral challenge.

Ultimately, the "One Chip Challenge" serves as a cautionary tale about the power and perils of social media influence in today's digital age.

In the pursuit of online glory, we must remember that there's a fine line between a spicy stunt and a dangerous gamble, and it's essential to tread carefully - especially when a tortilla chip from hell is involved.

Last updated: September 06, 2023 | 16:36
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