Pacqui Removes Its ‘One Chip Challenge’ From Retail Shelves
After a Massachusetts family alleged the death of their teenage son was a result of consuming an extremely spicy snack food known as the "One Chip Challenge," the manufacturer has removed its viral product from retail shelves.
What Was the "One Chip Challenge?"
Paqui, an American snack foods manufacturer, offers several flavors of tortilla chips, all of which vary in spice intensity. In 2016, Paqui debuted its "One Chip Challenge," a single, individually wrapped tortilla chip dusted with a combination of extremely spicy peppers.
In 2022 and again in 2023, these single chips were sold in coffin-shaped boxes, alluring spice-heads to try the world's hottest chip.
How Hot WAS the 'One Chip?'
The combination of peppers used in Paqui's annual 'One Chip' varies; however, it uses Carolina Reaper in its base. In 2022, the chip also contained Scorpion Chili Pepper, and 2023's offering included Naga Viper Pepper.
Pepper intensity is measured using Scoville Units, and while the One Chip itself doesn't have an official rating, the peppers it uses clocked in at an astounding number.
For context: a jalapeño pepper clocks in around 2,000-8,000 Scoville Units while a typical habañero pepper registers between 100,000-350,000 Scoville Units.
How Did the "One Chip Challenge" Go Viral?
Paqui promoted the hashtag #onechipchallenge, encouraging users to share photos and videos of their experiences with the extremely spicy snack.
The rules for the challenge, listed on Paqui's website, were relatively simple:
Eat the entire chip. Wait as long as possible before drinking or eating anything. Post your reaction on social media with #onechipchallenge and mention @paquichips
Those who attempted the challenge tested their resolve, with those who could wait an hour before drinking anything post-chip consumption earning the 2023 title of "Apex Predator."
Paqui did, however, list a disclaimer for the challenge on its site, noting that the super spicy chip was intended only for adult consumption.
Is the "One Chip Challenge" Dangerous?
In 2022, three students in Tyler, Texas were hospitalized following their "One Chip Challenge" attempt, prompting the Tyler Independent School District to issue the following statement to parents:
Please speak with your children about the seriousness of what could happen when they try to do these social media challenges. We love our children and we want them to be safe and healthy.
NBC Bay Area reports multiple California School districts issued similar statements that same year.
Can the "One Chip Challenge" Be Deadly?
The parents of Doherty Memorial High School sophomore Harris Wolobah allege his death is directly tied to the One Chip Challenge. NBC10Boston reports Wolobah consumed the chip on Friday, Sept. 1, experiencing extreme abdominal pain shortly afterward.
Wolobah made a trip to the school nurse's office before going home with his family. He passed out at 4:30 p.m. and was taken to a local hospital where, tragically, he was pronounced dead.
Wolobah's official cause of death is pending an official autopsy and his family has started a GoFundMe campaign to assist with medical and funeral expenses.
#onechipchallenge videos on TikTok currently feature the disclaimer that "participating in this activity could result in you or others getting hurt."
UPDATE (Sept. 8, 2023): CNN reports Paqui has voluntarily removed its "One Chip Challenge" from stores.