A package of Paqui Haunted Ghost Pepper tortilla chips.

A package of Paqui Haunted Ghost Pepper tortilla chips. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Several North Babylon middle school students fell ill temporarily this week after participating in a social media trend, also affecting other districts, involving eating a "high voltage" potato chip made with two of the spiciest peppers ever cultivated.

Stephanie Hasandras, principal of Robert Moses Middle School, sent a letter to parents Monday alerting them that several students who took part in the "Paqui: One Chip Challenge" had an "adverse reaction" and required treatment by a school nurse.

The challenge involving eating the spicy chips is promoted on the Paqui company's website and has been popularized on social media, most notably on TikTok.

The challenge debuted in 2016 and involves eating a Paqui chip — which is delivered in a coffin-shaped box — made with Carolina Reaper and Scorpion peppers, two of the spiciest chili peppers in the world. The challenge is to wait as long as possible before drinking or eating after eating the chip and to post reactions on social media.

"We talked with all of the student’s parents who we are aware ate the chips," Hasandras wrote. "You can help us protect your student(s) by requesting that they not eat anything given to them by another person and anything that they have not brought from your home. In addition, please ensure your student does not bring these chips or other detrimental items to school."

It was not clear the ages or grades of the students who became sick or the nature of their illness. District and school officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Earlier this month, the South Huntington School District also sent out a notice to parents about the viral trend.

"Due to this challenge, it has been reported that some children and adults have been hospitalized after eating these chips because of the physical reactions," wrote Superintendent Vito D’Elia. 

Northport-East Northport Superintendent Robert Banzer also sent a letter to parents last week alerting them to the "disruptive social media challenge" and directing them not to send the chips to school.

Suffolk emergency management officials said they did not respond to Robert Moses Middle School and have not provided medical care to any student who participated in the One Chip Challenge.

The Paqui chip company website provides a warning advising customers not to eat the chip if they're sensitive to spicy foods, allergic to peppers, pregnant, or "have any medical conditions."

"Keep out of reach of children. After touching the chip, wash your hands with soap and do not touch your eyes or other sensitive areas," the site says. "Seek medical assistance should you experience difficulty breathing, fainting or extended nausea."

In a statement, Paqui said its product is clearly marked with a warning label.

"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 said. " … The challenge can be fun for those who understand what they are taking on. But nonetheless, we hope that people considering taking this challenge will first read the packaging carefully to avoid a negative experience."

Dr. Scott Krakower, a child/adolescent psychiatrist at Northwell Health's Zucker Hillside College, sees parallels between the One Chip Challenge and other recent viral trends, including when people filmed themselves eating a spoonful of cinnamon or chewing on brightly colored liquid laundry detergent packets.

The goal of young people who take these types of online challenges, Krakower said, is to gain a sense of popularity by performing an "insane" act in hopes of raising their social media profile, often in hopes of becoming a TikTok star.

"They find it kind of stimulating and rewarding to do something that would be what we call 'sensational seeking behavior,'" Krakower said. "There's always the thought in the back of your head that if you do this and you record it that you're gonna have more 'likes' and will be more popular because of it."

Several North Babylon middle school students fell ill temporarily this week after participating in a social media trend, also affecting other districts, involving eating a "high voltage" potato chip made with two of the spiciest peppers ever cultivated.

Stephanie Hasandras, principal of Robert Moses Middle School, sent a letter to parents Monday alerting them that several students who took part in the "Paqui: One Chip Challenge" had an "adverse reaction" and required treatment by a school nurse.

The challenge involving eating the spicy chips is promoted on the Paqui company's website and has been popularized on social media, most notably on TikTok.

The challenge debuted in 2016 and involves eating a Paqui chip — which is delivered in a coffin-shaped box — made with Carolina Reaper and Scorpion peppers, two of the spiciest chili peppers in the world. The challenge is to wait as long as possible before drinking or eating after eating the chip and to post reactions on social media.

"We talked with all of the student’s parents who we are aware ate the chips," Hasandras wrote. "You can help us protect your student(s) by requesting that they not eat anything given to them by another person and anything that they have not brought from your home. In addition, please ensure your student does not bring these chips or other detrimental items to school."

It was not clear the ages or grades of the students who became sick or the nature of their illness. District and school officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Earlier this month, the South Huntington School District also sent out a notice to parents about the viral trend.

"Due to this challenge, it has been reported that some children and adults have been hospitalized after eating these chips because of the physical reactions," wrote Superintendent Vito D’Elia. 

Northport-East Northport Superintendent Robert Banzer also sent a letter to parents last week alerting them to the "disruptive social media challenge" and directing them not to send the chips to school.

Suffolk emergency management officials said they did not respond to Robert Moses Middle School and have not provided medical care to any student who participated in the One Chip Challenge.

The Paqui chip company website provides a warning advising customers not to eat the chip if they're sensitive to spicy foods, allergic to peppers, pregnant, or "have any medical conditions."

"Keep out of reach of children. After touching the chip, wash your hands with soap and do not touch your eyes or other sensitive areas," the site says. "Seek medical assistance should you experience difficulty breathing, fainting or extended nausea."

In a statement, Paqui said its product is clearly marked with a warning label.

"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 said. " … The challenge can be fun for those who understand what they are taking on. But nonetheless, we hope that people considering taking this challenge will first read the packaging carefully to avoid a negative experience."

Dr. Scott Krakower, a child/adolescent psychiatrist at Northwell Health's Zucker Hillside College, sees parallels between the One Chip Challenge and other recent viral trends, including when people filmed themselves eating a spoonful of cinnamon or chewing on brightly colored liquid laundry detergent packets.

The goal of young people who take these types of online challenges, Krakower said, is to gain a sense of popularity by performing an "insane" act in hopes of raising their social media profile, often in hopes of becoming a TikTok star.

"They find it kind of stimulating and rewarding to do something that would be what we call 'sensational seeking behavior,'" Krakower said. "There's always the thought in the back of your head that if you do this and you record it that you're gonna have more 'likes' and will be more popular because of it."

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