Teenager dies after eating dangerously spicy tortilla while doing viral 'One Chip Challenge'

6 September 2023, 14:00

Harris Wolobah died after trying the viral ‘One Chip Challenge’
Harris Wolobah died after trying the viral ‘One Chip Challenge’. Picture: GoFundme/Paqui Chips

By Asher McShane

The death of a teenager has sparked warnings over attempts to complete the ‘One Chip Challenge’ that involves eating an extremely spicy tortilla chip.

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14-year-old Harris Wolobah died on September 1 after taking part in the viral social media challenge.

The challenge involves eating what is described as the hottest tortilla chip on the planet - and then not eating or drinking anything for as long as possible.

Harris, of Worcester Massachusetts, was taken ill with severe stomach ache after trying the challenge. He collapsed and was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

His mother told local media she believed her son died due to medical complications.

“I pray to god that no parents will go through what I am going through,” Harris’s mother Louis Wolobah told CBS in tears. “I don’t want to see anybody hurting the way I’m hurting. I miss my son so much.”

Harris Wolobah collapsed and died from suspected ‘complications’ after trying the ‘One Chip Challenge’
Harris Wolobah collapsed and died from suspected ‘complications’ after trying the ‘One Chip Challenge’. Picture: GoFundme

Worcester Public Schools superintendent Rachel Monárrez called him a “rising star”. “It is with a heavy heart I share that we lost a rising star, Harris Wolobah, who was a sophomore scholar at Doherty Memorial High School. As a mother and educator, I cannot imagine how hard this is on his family, friends and teachers,” a statement said.

The  UK’s Food Standards Agency said it was aware of reports of people being sent to hospital in agony after taking part.

The body’s reaction to extremely spicy food includes swelling, nausea, vomiting, eye pain, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, heartburn from acid reflux, and headaches.

The maker of the chip, Paqui, a brand owned by The Hershey Company, has previously said it takes “safety very seriously” and has “worked hard” to ensure its products are properly “labelled with allergen and safety information”.

The firm advises anyone who has difficulty breathing, faints or has extended nausea after eating the chip to seek medical assistance.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Harris's family “raise enough funds to alleviate the burden of funeral expenses for his parents and siblings”.

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