'One Chip': New Viral Challenge Sends 3 Students To Hospital

At least three high school students in California were hospitalized this month after participating in the viral social media "one chip challenge," which involves eating a chip made with some of the world's hottest peppers.

The students at Lodi High School near Sacramento were each taken to the emergency room after having an intense reaction to the ultra spicy food, the school's principle, Adam Auerbach, told Newsweek.

"Each student who has taken part has had a similar reaction, struggling to breathe and catch their breath," Auerbach said Friday. "We have also had students vomiting on themselves and have had to put a stop to any further unhealthy/unsafe behaviors, as each has resulted in students needing to leave campus to head home or to the emergency room."

The challenge, which was was created by the brand Paqui, encourages participants to eat a single chip "made with the hottest peppers on the planet," and then waiting as long as physically possible before drinking something, according to the company's website. The chip, described by Paqui as both "eye-watering" and "curse-inducing" contains Carolina Reaper and Scorpion peppers, which are known to be among the most difficult spice levels to stomach.

Both peppers have been rated as 2 million Scoville units, Dr. Bret Christiansen of California's Marshall Medical Center told CBS 13 this week. For perspective, a jalapeño is roughly 5,000 Scoville units, so this spice level would be around "400 times hotter than a jalapeño," Christiansen noted.

The one chip challenge has recently gained significant traction online, with over 475 million views on its TikTok hashtag alone. Auerbach told Newsweek that the chip has since been banned from Lodi School District after other students attempted the challenge at lunch.

"We are encouraging parents/guardians to speak with their children about the dangers of taking part in unsafe internet challenges, such as this one. Students found in possession of these chips will face progressive consequences, such as being sent home and detention," he said.

Paqui previously said in an interview that it takes safety issues seriously and provides labeling to signal that its product is extremely spicy, though it has not yet commented on this specific instance.

"The Paqui #OneChipChallenge is notoriously hot, as our branding implies, and the product should be handled with extreme care," the company previously said, according to the Miami Herald.

"Our #OneChipChallenge includes a safety disclaimer that it should not be ingested by individuals who are sensitive to spicy foods, allergic to peppers, nightshades, or capsaicin, or who are minors, pregnant or have medical conditions. If you experience any severe reactions or symptoms, please contact a medical professional immediately."

Newsweek contacted Paqui for additional comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.

One Chip Challenge hospitalizes 3 students
At least 3 California students were hospitalized this month after participating in the "one chip challenge," which requires people to eat a chip spiced with the world's hottest peppers. Here, a young farmer shows a handful of the hottest peppers, including the Carolina Reaper, on December 3, 2019 in Serbia. VLADIMIR ZIVOJINOVIC/AFP/Getty Images