Burning hot, and crazy
By Jim Poling
Published April 26, 2018
I think I am going to be ill. My stomach is gurgling, starting to roll and its contents are about to take flight.
I’ve been researching what people put in their mouths, and why. What I have discovered is enough to make a cast iron stomach flip its pancakes.
For instance, earlier this year an internet meme involving laundry pods surged in popularity and suddenly developed into the Tide Pod Challenge. Teenagers videoed themselves chewing and gagging on Tide Pods and posting the videos to YouTube where they dared others to do the same.
I’ve never snacked on Tide Pods myself so I wanted to find out why anyone would bite into a plastic packet of detergent. They contain polymers, hydrogen peroxide, ethanol and other nasty things that can burn the mouth, the esophagus and stomach.
The only answer seemed to be stupidity.
While researching I discovered the world of internet food challenges. I guess I lead a sheltered life because I did not know there are hundreds of food challenges, ranging from eating the world’s hottest pepper to the Banana Sprite Challenge.
The latter involves quickly swallowing two bananas then chugging a litre of Sprite. The idea is to do that without vomiting, which is nearly impossible because the human stomach can hold only two cups of anything at any given moment.
There are a variety of hot pepper challenges in which participants are filmed eating the world’s hottest peppers. The preparations, including having large quantities of soothing milk at hand, are shown followed by the eating, then the reactions that can include intense sweating, pain contortions and hallucinations.
One guy who took the hot pepper challenge landed in hospital with a burned throat and a collapsed lung.
Two years ago five middle school kids in Ohio were taken to hospital following a hot pepper challenge during lunch break. The kids suffered skin rashes, sweating and unbearable discomfort. One boy temporarily lost his eyesight.
They had eaten Bhut Jolokia, also called the ghost pepper, which is a type of chilli pepper cultivated in India.
The ghost pepper was considered the world’s hottest pepper but apparently the Carolina Reaper now has that honour. Pepperhead, a hot pepper website, reports that the Reaper is 20 times hotter than a Habanero and 600 times hotter than a Jalapeno.
Imagine, 600 times hotter than a pepper that makes me sweat whenever I just drive past a grocery store that sells them!
There seems to be no end to the number of nasty food challenges. There’s the drinking Lemon Juice Challenge, the Chubby Bunny (stuffing numerous marshmallows in your mouth), the Gulping Milk Challenge and the Saltine Challenge in which participants try to stuff their mouths with crackers without spitting them out.
The list seems endless. These challenges are really stunts aimed at getting attention. Some are entertaining, even educational, but others are just plain dumb and can be dangerous.
Among the most gross and dangerous are the two Condom Challenges. These began several years back, presumably by beer drinking college students bored with studying, but have found renewed popularity this year.
One involves snorting a latex condom through the nose, into the back of the throat, then pulling it out through the mouth. Medical professionals of course warn that this is a really bad idea.
These things are rubbery and can easily get stuck in the throat, cutting off breathing and forcing a person to choke. Swallowing one can create serious medical complications.
That challenge went viral on YouTube in 2013 but YouTube later removed condom challenge videos.
The other condom challenge is the water drop. You fill a condom with water and drop it on your head. The idea is to have the condom envelope your head to leave the impression that you are immersed in the water inside the condom.
This kind of craziness is nothing new. Wacky challenges and bizarre stunts have been around for decades, if not centuries. They will continue and likely more elaborate and crazy than before.
We just hope that they come with some restraint and common sense. Because we live in a society that already offers too many ways to get hurt.