A Massachusetts teen passed away on Friday, just hours after participating in the viral “One Chip Challenge” craze.
Harris Wolobah, a 14-year-old sophomore at Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, ate the infamously spicy Paqui chip and was later found unresponsive, the New York Post reports. His family attributes his untimely death to the extremely spicy snack, triggering a renewed debate on the risks associated with viral social media challenges.
After consuming the chip at school, Harris quickly developed a stomach ache, as reported by his mother Lois Wolobah to NBC 10 Boston.
Although he initially started to feel better after being brought home by his family, he was found unconscious later when he was about to leave for basketball tryouts. Despite the rush to a nearby hospital, the teen was pronounced dead.
Despite the family’s theories, an autopsy is pending to confirm the official cause of his death.
On a GoFundMe page set up for the teen’s family, his loved ones write: “Harris passed away unexpectedly at the age of 14 from what we suspect to be complications due to the ‘one chip challenge’ (autopsy pending).
“The pain our family is experiencing is unimaginable. Harris was a light that lit up the room with his presence and subtle charm. He was an intelligent, quirky, and incredibly talented young man who loved video games and playing basketball!”
The family says that they are “planning to lay Harris to rest in the coming weeks”, and are seeking funds to “alleviate the burden of funeral expenses for his parents and siblings during this incredibly difficult time.”
As of this writing, over $22,000 has been raised.
The Controversial Chip: What Does the Company Say?
The Paqui brand has issued warnings on its website about the possible adverse medical effects of consuming the chip. The chip features intensely spicy ingredients like Carolina Reaper Pepper and Naga Viper Pepper.
The challenge – which Paqui has coined the ‘One Chip Challenge’, involves seeing hold long one can withstand the chip’s heat without seeking relief by eating or drinking.
There are many videos on social media showing people attempting to withstand the heat of what they describe as the “world’s hottest tortilla chip”.
According to Paqui: “After touching the chip, wash your hands with soap and do not touch eyes or other sensitive areas.” The brand explicitly advises that only adults should attempt this challenge and recommends seeking medical assistance for symptoms like trouble breathing, fainting, or prolonged nausea.
A list of the warnings as seen on the brand’s website can be seen below:
Last year, one high schooler shared a video to social media showing her in the hospital after attempting the One Chip Challenge. The New York Post says she was bet $50 to eat the Paqui chip, and that it took several hours for medications to ease her stomach pain.
Fox9 also reported last October that paramedics had to be sent to a middle school in order to attend to several students who complained of having “difficulty breathing and eye pain”, according to an email sent by the school to parents.
Our thoughts go out to Harris’ family and loved ones at this time.