Massachusetts Teen Dies After Allegedly Taking Part in Viral 'One Chip Challenge,' Eating Snack Containing World's Hottest Pepper

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Harris Wolobah
Harris Wolobah GoFundMe/Facebook

A 14-year-old boy from Massachusetts died late last week after taking part in the 'One Chip Challenge.' The teen's family believes the viral social media trend is what led to his death. Late Harris Wolobah was a sophomore at Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester.

Harris allegedly consumed an extremely spicy Paqui chip at school, following which he developed a stomach ache, his mother Lois told local news outlets.

Harris' family picked him up and brought him home, where he started to feel better. However, he passed out before going to leave for basketball tryouts, according to his mother. He was then rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy is pending and a cause of death has yet to be revealed.

What is the 'One Chip Challenge'?

The 'One Chip Challenge' debuted in 2016, but the following years have seen renewed interest among youngsters. It was started as a marketing campaign by chip company, Paqui. Youngsters buy the chip, flavoured with Carolina Reaper pepper, and film themselves having it to document how long they can go on eating it without drinking or eating anything for relief. The pepper used in the chip is considered the hottest pepper in the world.

Poison Control, which has a web page dedicated to the challenge, says, "The Paqui One Chip Challenge is a social media challenge that involves consumption of a spicy tortilla chip. The chip contains capsaicin, a compound found naturally in chilli peppers. Capsaicin consumption typically causes mouth and throat pain but can also result in more serious health problems including heart attack and esophageal damage."

It says of the challenge, "Because everyone's sensation of taste is different, the hot and spicy flavor of the One Chip Challenge can vary among individuals. The hot or spicy sensation felt in the mouth and throat after eating chili peppers is due to the presence of capsaicin. The capsaicin content of foods is frequently assessed by using the Scoville heat units (SHU) scale. Bell peppers have zero SHU, while pure capsaicin contains approximately 15 million SHU. The Carolina Reaper pepper contains up to 2.2 million SHU, and some Scorpion peppers can contain more than 2 million SHU. The high SHU measurements confirm that both of these peppers are quite pungent and irritating to taste."

Reportedly, Paqui says on its website that the chip should only be consumed by adults. "After touching the chip, wash your hands with soap and do not touch eyes or other sensitive areas," the brand says.

GoFundMe Launched for Harris

A GoFundMe has been launched for Harris. "The pain our family is experiencing is unimaginable. Harris was a light that lit up the room with his presence and subtle charm. He was an intelligent, quirky and incredibly talented young man who loved video games and playing basketball! the page says.

It adds, "Our family is planning to lay Harris to rest in the coming weeks, so I'm hoping that with the help of this compassionate community, we can raise enough funds to alleviate the burden of funeral expenses for his parents and siblings during this incredibly difficult time."