An extra-spicy tortilla chip is being pulled from store shelves after a teenager died after taking on the viral “One Chip Challenge.”
The product, produced by Texas-based company Paqui, is a single tortilla chip seasoned with Carolina Reaper and Naga viper peppers, two of the spiciest peppers on the market. It is presented in a box resembling a coffin with a skull decoration.
The viral food challenge encourages people to see if they can handle the chip’s heat and post the results on social media. Fourteen-year-old Harris Wolobah from Massachusetts reportedly took on the challenge and tragically passed away hours later.
The family of the teenager blamed Paqui for their son’s death. They believe that the extreme spiciness of the chip may have played a role in the tragic outcome, however the official cause of death is still being determined.
In response to the incident, Paqui released a statement on its website, offering condolences to the family and announcing that it was voluntarily removing the product from stores “out of an abundance of caution.” The company stated that the chip adhered to food safety standards and was labeled for adults only, with warnings for individuals with allergies, health conditions, or pregnancies.
“We have seen an increase in teens and other individuals not heeding these warnings,” the statement added.
The stern product recall statement on the website replaced marketing content that was up on the company site until September 5, asking users, “How long can you last before you spiral out?” (Before eating or drinking anything for relief).”
The copy was portrayed with a grim reaper and a scale defining an “apex predator” as someone who waits an hour after eating the chip before eating anything else. A separate graphic below cautioned buyers to keep the chip out of the reach of minors, among other things.
Wolobah’s parents, Amos and Lois, told CBS News affiliate WBZ-TV that their son fainted after eating the chip at school, and after returning home, he passed out a second time and later died in the hospital.
Wolobah had no known allergies and was a healthy basketball player, they told the outlet.
“I hope, I pray to God that no parents will go through what I’m going through,” the boy’s mother told WBZ-TV. “I miss my son so much.”