WORCESTER, Mass. (WTVO) — A 14-year-old boy has died just hours after eating an infamously spicy tortilla chip as part of a viral social media challenge, according to NBC 10 Boston.
Harris Wolobah, a high school sophomore from Massachusetts, attempted the “One Chip Challenge,” a social media trend that dares consumers to eat a tortilla chip containing “two of the hottest peppers available currently available,” at school on Friday.
After consuming the chip, Wolobah reportedly complained of feeling ill and went to the school nurse’s office.
He was picked up by his mother shortly after, according to a school spokesperson.
The teenager’s condition seemingly improved after leaving school, however, he was later found unconscious around 4:30 p.m.
Wolobah was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
“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,” said Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Rachel Monarrez in a statement. “As a mother and educator, I cannot imagine how hard this is on his family, friends and teachers. My heart goes out to all who knew and loved him.”
Though Wolobah’s cause of death has not yet been determined, his family believes the spicy chip played a central role.
The “One Chip Challenge” was created by chip maker Paqui. This year’s chip contains Carolina Reaper and Naga Viper peppers, among the hottest in the world, according to Paqui’s website.
As the challenge’s name implies, a single chip is packaged in a coffin-shaped container that warns consumers to seek medical assistance if they experience trouble breathing, fainting, or prolonged nausea.
“Eat the entire chip. Wait as long as possible before drinking or eating anything. Post your reaction on social media with #onechipchallenge and mention @paquichips,” says the manufacturer on their website.
Experts warned against the challenge in 2022 after multiple videos of participants being sent to the hospital went viral.
One student in Texas reportedly lost consciousness and began seizing after trying the chip, according to KBTX.
Paqui addressed the health concerns in a 2022 statement, saying they take “safety very seriously and have worked hard to ensure our products are properly and clearly labeled with allergen and safety information.”
“It is our intent that consumers take on this challenge with a full understanding of what it is and if it is appropriate for them,” the company added.