Teenager died from eating an absurdly spicy tortilla chip

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/05/17/teenager-died-from-eating-an-absurdly-spicy-tortilla-chip.html


In its statement Thursday, Paqui cited the chip’s “clear and prominent labeling highlighting that the product was not for children or anyone sensitive to spicy foods or with underlying health conditions.”

I’m looking at that photo and not seeing it. Perhaps it’s because I’m blinded by thoughts of his bereaved parents.


Years ago, the metrology personnel at my first employer invited me to sample a hot sauce they had been experimenting with. They were passionate about super-hot sauces. Curious, I accepted their offer—after all, what harm could it do? I can’t recall the Scoville rating or the sauce’s product name. Following their guidance, I applied a tiny 1/8" diameter blob of the sauce to my pinky and touched it to my tongue. Within just a couple of minutes, a fiery “numbness” surged through my body, and my face flushed. It was astonishing how swiftly the sauce entered my bloodstream! That’s when I discovered the danger of such sauces.


At least the company removed the product from shelves :confused: unlike Panera, which kept selling it’s dangerously caffeinated lemonade until just recently after 2 people died. They just discontinued it. Didn’t pull it, just won’t make more.

I feel for the kid’s parents. It must be terrible to lose their child


Given that you can’t in any meaningful way taste a substance like that, at what point does it cease being a sauce, and become just a potentially dangerous chemical used as a food additive? Like how THC is added to edibles, or Jolt Cola Panera Lemonade with seventeen times the caffeine, or if you were to add extra tetrodotoxin to Crunchy Frog chocolates for that extra paralysing sensation.

It´s just… it doesn’t seem like “cooking” any more by that point, it’s more like how you start in brewing by making beer or wine or mead, then you move on to fortified wine, and if you’re really keen you move on to distilling spirits, but eventually you’re just putting a drop of essential flavours into a quantity of 200 proof ethanol, and by that stage what really is the point?


I guess it says “Deadly” on top of the box.:face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

I also strongly dislike the “underlying health conditions” excuse.

Many people likely have no idea they have a health condition that could be exacerbated by something like this. Diagnosis of many cardiac conditions is challenging even with the best care.

I enjoy some stupidly spicy foods, but I see absolutely no reason to sell things this hot. And if they knew enough to put a warning label on it, they frankly shouldn’t sell it. Kids will absolutely try it period.

I used to enjoy their chips, but I’m done with the brand based on this victim blaming for the companies bad decision.


You’ve hit on the problem exactly. Chile heads need more and more heat, because they become acclimated to the burn. They don’t eat the hottest peppers because they like the subtle fruity flavors, they’re looking for the endorphin rush of overwhelming all the receptors trying to tell them that what they just ingested was poison, and they’ll need a hotter pepper next time to get there. A similar thing can happen with hoppy beers, where you become acclimated to bitterness, and you seek out more and more IBUs. I don’t think the same thing happens with brewing in general; none of the homebrewers I know, at least, including myself, have graduated to distilling. Yet.


This is idiotic and dangerous.

The company’s go-to defense in this case.

Are we looking at the same fucking box?
The cheery pink halloween (cos all kids love halloween) styled-box?
The one with no visible warnings on the front, nor age-deterrent?

Stupid, fucking irresponsible marketing bullshit product.
I hope the bastards get sued.



It’s like those bubblegum flavoured vape cartridges in the bright colorful packaging pushed by what was once known as the tobacco industry. “For Adult Enjoyment Only” my arse.


I hope so too. Being (checks notes)…

…they certainly can afford to pay up :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:


I’m not sure how applicable this is to American scenarios; but this sort of thing seems like a situation that would have the ‘eggshell skull’ doctrine types pricking up their ears. Sure, there’s a warning label; but “underlying health conditions” is one of those things that’s so vague as to bring saying everything and saying nothing together rather than to actually act a meaningful instruction; so it seems like it would be just dreadful policy to take its presence seriously as a defense.


I’m going purely off memory from like 3 years ago when i tried one of these chips, but i want to say that there were warnings on the packaging and on the inside there’s a pamphlet that has more information about the challenge plus warnings. But again this is just going off what i think i remember, though either way i already knew how unbelievably hot it was because i had seen multiple youtubers trying it and i have experience eating really stupidly spicy things so i came at it with extreme caution (i even handled the chip with latex gloves instead of my bare hands).

However i do think that marketing an extreme spicy snack as a fun challenge does distort people’s perception of danger. No matter what the whole thing was problematic and someone was bound to have a bad reaction. It’s awful that someone’s kid died over some dumb “challenge”.


Awesome diagnostic chip to go off market pending ready LPN with varietal statin cornchips hid, to include in package.


Exactly. So “an abundance of caution” would have seen any sane marketing dept going ‘nope’ on this before it left the proposal stage. Any product that relies on an ‘underlying health conditions’ disclaimer (when they are often ‘underlying’ because they have not been identified, otherwise they are just ‘health conditions’) is always going to be a huge reputational risk.


I was coming to point this exact thing out. It becomes almost an addiction after a time. But newbies can really get hurt.


Curious…how did it go for you?

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V spicy food did not appeal to me when I was a kid: I didn’t enjoy having a burning mouth.

I’d just become a little older and a little more adventurous when mom decided to plant some kind of hot peppers. Prolific producers, peppers - she put them in almost every dish once they ripened. She put so many in my scrambled eggs I couldn’t eat them a few times, and she’d apologize, but it didn’t end there.

One evening during dinner, I pulled a piece of pepper outta my long-suffering mouth, asking, “Do we really need these in our salad?!” She apologized again, and at long last she backed off on them. She was angry that I then refused to eat them at all, but I was completely done with spicy food for over a decade after that debacle.

Many years later, I became adventurous again, even requesting Hunan and Szechuan dishes be made “almost painful.” We heard the chefs laughing a few times when my orders were placed, but unlike mom, they never hurt me.

A love affair with Scotch Bonnets began w/Jamaican vacations. That stuff is dangerous, but when one doesn’t go overboard, it is so very tasty. No other hot pepper I’ve ever met is as delicious, and I sprinkle a little bit in many things - soup, meatloaf, pork chops, hush puppies…and my BF’s always happy when it’s in his omelette.

ETA: It’s horrifying that they didn’t pull that wretched product after the 1st person was stricken! All that needless suffering!


If i wanted to be honest i tried it twice within the course of a week or two. Once with a friend and once with my SO, but i was pretty cautious about it. I had plenty of ice cream on hand, and despite my high tolerance for spice it really hurt and i think it’s because it uses capsaicin extract (my guess) so the spice hits you harder, more intensely, and for longer. I want to say it took almost an hour before the pain of the spice went down to a tolerable level.

I’m not sure if i would try it again. Maybe but i’d rather eat an overly spicy food for fun than this chip


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