5 Viral Food Challenges That Were Directly Dangerous – Eat this, not that

Going viral, whether through an image, tweet, story, or video, means your content spreads quickly and widely across the web across platforms like social media and email. It can get well over a million views in a matter of minutes. From YouTube to Instagram to TikTok, people are doing everything to get views. In some cases, people will create challenges to get people to try them, thereby spreading their content all over the world. Sometimes these viral trends turn out to be dangerous, but because the challenge went viral, people keep going, even if it means causing physical harm.

Food challenges are a big trend that often go viral. Unfortunately, not everyone is sure. We spoke to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, CPTauthor of The First Mother’s Pregnancy Cookbook, The 7-ingredient cookbook for a healthy pregnancyand Promotion of male fertilityto recap some of the worst food challenges over time. She explains why they were so bad for you, even though they seemed harmless. When you’re done reading, take a look at The Most Dangerous TikTok Food Trends You Should Never Try for more food craze.


In the early 2010s, the Cinnamon Challenge was for people who had to put a spoonful of ground cinnamon in their mouth in 60 seconds without drinking any liquid to wash it down. What seems like a fairly simple task on paper actually has more side effects than you might think.

“People can choke or choke on cinnamon, which can be extremely dangerous,” Manaker explains. “Also, inhaling large amounts of cinnamon can damage your lungs.”

According to Children’s Minnesota, choking on cinnamon when you inhale it can cause inflammation in the lungs, as well as thickening of lung tissue and scarring. When this happens, it can lead to either pneumonia, a collapsed lung, or permanent lung damage.

Carolina Reaper Pepper

You may have remembered the “Ghost Pepper Challenge” or “Hot Pepper Challenge” that peaked around 2012. The idea was to eat a ghost pepper whole without anything to take the heat off. Now if you thought that was extreme, the Carolina Reaper made it a lot worse.

In 2017, Guinness World Records ranked the Carolina Reaper as the hottest chili pepper in the world. So naturally people had to start trying to eat them whole.

“Some people may not tolerate these very hot peppers and may experience a seizure, vomiting and, in extreme cases, death,” explains Manaker.

Pretend to eat tide pods

“While Tide Capsules may look like appealing candy, they’re actually made out of laundry detergent,” says Manaker. “You don’t have to be a nutritionist to know that eating detergent is not a good idea.”

Although somewhat obvious, that didn’t stop people from eating tide pods in the late 2010s. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, poison control centers received reports of nearly 220 teens exposed to Tide Pod capsules in 2017, with about 25% of those cases being intentional.

People exposed to the capsules were hospitalized with vomiting, difficulty breathing and unconsciousness. Several deaths also occurred during this very questionable virus challenge.

various protein powders

If you’ve been on TikTok recently, you may have come across this trend while scrolling through your “For You” page. This is the trend that encourages people to take pre-workout powders without water. You take a serving of protein powder and just eat it like that.

“Dry scooping is associated with outcomes such as heart palpitations, lung damage, and infection from overinhalation,” says Manaker. “People can also have digestive problems.”

According to Hackensack Meridian Health, if you consume a dry scoop of a pre-workout blend, you may also accidentally inhale some of the powder that’s not intended to be swallowed dry. Therefore, dry scooping can trigger health problems such as breathing difficulties and heart attacks. Even if you are young and healthy.


While not technically challenging, this hack went viral. The intended hope for this trend was to keep the avocado from developing those squishy brown spots. It meant longer access to a fresher avocado.

Tik Tok brought the trend to light by storing avocados in filled water bottles and putting them in the fridge. Then slice the avocados to reveal healthy, green, and fresh fruit.

“Trying to extend the life of your avocado by soaking it in water might sound like a good idea in theory,” Manaker says, but storing avocados in water can encourage bacterial growth and lead to foodborne illness.

The FDA also agreed news week that this lifehack could harbor and multiply harmful bacteria like salmonella.

Kayla Garritano

Kayla Garritano is a contributor to Eat This, Not That! She graduated from Hofstra University, where she majored in journalism and minored in marketing and creative writing. Continue reading

Leave a Comment