Turns Out One Chip Can Be One Too Many

Lightspruch / shutterstock.com
Lightspruch / shutterstock.com

Harris Wolobah, a 10th grader from Worcester, Mass. decided to join other kids taking the Paqui “One Chip Challenge” back on September 1st, 2023. Eating the incredibly spicy chip ultimately proved fatal for the youngster as he died of cardiopulmonary arrest.

Now, the Associated Press (AP) has learned that an autopsy has revealed that the youngster had a congenital heart defect, as well as cardiomegaly or an enlarged heart.

When it comes to the exact cause of death, the AP discovered that Chief Office of the Medical Examiner learned the arrest occurred “in the setting of recent ingestion of food substance with high capsaicin concentration.” Given the potency of capsaicin contained on the chip to give it the signature searing heat, multiple doctors confirmed this ruling to the AP. Given how the body reacts to these supersized doses, it’s surprising more deaths had not previously happened.

Back in 2016, as the quest for hotter and hotter snacks hit a feverish crescendo, Hershey Co. subsidiary Texas-based company Paqui launched their “One Chip Challenge.” The single tortilla chip was coated with Carolina Reaper and Naga Viper pepper dust and packaged in a coffin-shaped container with a flaming skull. Plastered in warnings that this was for adult consumption, and warning those with heart issues, many took them as nothing more than banter.

Pulled from the shelf voluntarily in September 2023, the company has been in damage control ever since. While their playful warnings also suggested people wait as long as possible before eating or drinking anything to cool the heat, many who took the challenge took it seriously. By recording their reactions, many hoped to go viral, and felt that the chip could get them the notoriety nothing else had. Unfortunately for Wolobah, they notoriety came from being the only one to die from a spicy tortilla chip.