Super-spicy "One Chip Challenge" tortilla chip removed from shelves when 14 year-old dies after eating one

Originally published at: Super-spicy "One Chip Challenge" tortilla chip removed from shelves when 14 year-old dies after eating one | Boing Boing


I doubt the chip directly caused his death, but if he kept drinking huge amounts of water trying to cool off his mouth, that could actually do it. This is why people not experienced with eating really spicy foods shouldn’t try something like this. I do eat a lot of really spicy food, and I know that water won’t help much with the heat and may make it worse, and I also know you can die from drinking massive amounts of water too quickly. Most teenagers aren’t going to know that. I feel so bad for his family. I think Paqui is right to take this off the market.


I vaguely recall reading the Guiness Book of World Records and the entry for the most peppers eaten was for an Israeli who also earned the Darwin Award by dying of a punctured gut shortly after.


Macho eating has consequences.

Hold my beer!


Could be hyponatremia from too much water, could have also been an anaphylactic reaction or maybe even an extreme case of vasovagal response from the pain it caused, combined with a previously unknown heart condition… freak incident for sure.


My response is: it depends.

Overly spicy food can cause a tachycardia reaction in the body as well as heart palpitations. Tachycardia can lead to fainting and thrombosis, and severe palpitations can exacerbate an underlying condition.

So, the spiciness wouldn’t directly kill someone, but could set off a serious underlying condition or catalyze a serious event (thrombosis).

I feel sorry for this unfortunate kid. Probably he and his parents didn’t think spicy could do more than cause extreme discomfort.

in my experience, the best way to cool the heat is to quench it with milk or a few spoonfuls of sour cream, which “absorb/dilute” the pepper’s oils (I don’t actually know what is happening there at the chemical level, but it’s rescued me from accidental habanero accidents more than once).


I understand that a few of grams of pure capsaicin is enough to hit the median lethal dose (depending on body mass of course), but I imagine that would be a whole lot of those chips.

My understanding - the spice is fat soluble so a fatty drink works better than a watery drink.

If I’m wrong I’m sure someone’ll correct me.


You’re correct, a creamsicle is the top remedy (cold, and a decent amount of fat), I also like a thickly buttered piece of bread.


Capsaicin isn’t water soluble. It’s a little fat soluble, but not very much. Frankly, for the super hot stuff like this or Da Bomb Beyond Insanity sauce, nothing will help much except time. Water sort of makes things worse just because it spreads the capsaicin all around your mouth. Milk, even full fat milk, is still mostly water so it doesn’t do much better. Whipped cream or sour cream can provide some temporary relief, but still leaves most of the capsaicin in your mouth.


Really? An Israeli? If he was Jewish, er, we’re not exactly a people known for our intestinal fortitude. On the other hand, if he did die from all those peppers, well, there’s that.

HIHO - Hot in, hot out.

I love spicy foods, to a fault… but the aftermath is painful and often very unpleasant. My mind knows better, my body knows better… but I still do it and defer the consequences until later.

Never had anything so spicy that I died though.

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I’ve eaten these in two different times, and both times the experience was pretty extreme even as a person that likes spicy food and occasionally will eat something stupidly spicy. It’s an experience i can’t recommend, and in the packaging it does have very prominent warnings that only healthy adults should try eating the chip. Its awful this kid died no matter what, but i assume he might’ve had an underlying health condition.

Should this product be removed from the market? Maybe, i wouldn’t particularly care if it went away but that seems to be scapegoating one particular brand because there are many many other extreme spicy products out there.

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Years ago, some friends were running a “Hot Luck” party at a SF convention, where people were encouraged to bring their favorite hot sauces, spicy dishes, and the like, all split up on four different tables: Adventurous, Brave, Crazy, and Death. About halfway through the party, a teen wanders in and goes over to the “Death” table, grabs a whole habanero, pops it in his mouth and chews. About a second and a half later, he spits it out, and runs out the door, screaming. We had to send people out to find him so we could feed him milk/ice cream to kill the heat, when he was convinced to come back, he said he thought the bright orange pepper was a piece of candy, despite it being on the “Death” table at a hot foods potluck.

Similarly, a few years ago, I grew a plant’s worth of “the world’s hottest pepper,” I forget which variety was king at the time, and used one of them to make a batch of very tasty and spicy cornbread muffins. Everyone at the office enjoyed them, but I had also brought in one of the whole peppers. Sure enough, despite many warnings, as soon as my back was turned one of the cow-orkers took a bite. He had to go home to deal with it.

I feel sorry for the kid in the story, and I remember getting away with similar and even more stupid stuff when I was a teen, but it just seems like the Paqui/Hershey folk didn’t think this one through. There’s a certain kind of person who cannot resist a perceived challenge presented by a bit of spicy food, as well as unfortunates who have never experienced really hot peppers, and they’re going to suffer and, as seen in the article, possibly die if they can’t handle it.

For non-chile heads out there: don’t go for the hot stuff without prep! Start a few days ahead of time and work your way up to the really spicy stuff – by the midnight at the aforementioned “Hot Luck,” I was nibbling on the habaneros with enjoyment, as all the heat/pain sensory bits in my body had been maxed out and faded to a pleasant glow and endorphin buzz. They just tasted sweet, and only a bit spicy.


One time a friend pranked me with a sandwich with waaay too much of an extreme hot sauce (Satan’s Blood) hidden inside and I swallowed a mouthful before realizing it. I sucked on so much ice to numb my mouth that the next time I urinated it was spicy on the way out.

Young people doing something foolish that is likely to be uncomfortable for a while is pretty understandable… but ending up dead? So sad for this kid & his family.

It was my understanding that it was the casein in milk that was actually responsible for reducing capsaicin’s burn. Cottage cheese, which is basically all casein, works pretty well to reduce it in my experience.

Citation please. :wink:

45 years ago there was a place in Manchester that did a chicken biryani (pretty much its only dish) that consisted of chicken and rice (chicken sometimes rumoured to be cat) with a choice of sauces.

Mild, Medium, Hot, Killer, and Suicide. Anyone who ate a whole Suicide got another one for free.

You are so right about HIHO. The main reason why I cannot eat anything with chilli in these days.

I’ve told this story on BB before, but…

Pre-pandemic we had a fridge thief who regularly stole food, especially my lunch pizza, from the fridge. After this happened a few times I spiked the pizza under the cheese with Rwandan periperi sauce (habanero oil mixed with palm oil, about 50/50).

I never did find out who the thief was, but nothing was ever stolen from the fridge after that.


That makes sense; I’ve taken to cutting heat with central Asian style kefir: thick as a milkshake.

Ars Technica mentioned that Carolina Reapers have been linked to reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome. Some doctors suspect the cause is not the capsaicin, but another currently unidentified substance in Carolina Reapers.