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Can kids eat the One Chip Challenge?

The One Chip Challenge has become an internet sensation in recent years. This spicy chip made by Paqui chips is extremely hot, with a Scoville rating of up to 2 million Scoville heat units. For comparison, a jalapeno pepper ranks around 8,000 units! The One Chip Challenge dares people to eat one chip straight without drinking any liquids. Videos of people taking the challenge and reacting to the intense heat have spread across social media.

With the popularity of this viral challenge, many parents are wondering if it is safe for kids to participate. There are several factors to consider when deciding if children should eat the One Chip Challenge.

What is the One Chip Challenge?

The One Chip Challenge involves eating a single chip flavored with the hottest peppers in the world. The specific peppers used vary between batches, but have included the Carolina Reaper, Scorpion pepper and Ghost pepper. These are some of the hottest peppers on the planet, ranging from 1 million to 2 million Scoville heat units.

To put that in perspective, a jalapeno pepper ranks around 8,000 units and a habanero pepper hits 350,000 units. The One Chip is designed to be almost unbearably spicy and hot.

The rules of the challenge are simple: the participant must eat one entire chip and resist drinking any liquid or eating anything else for as long as possible after consumption. The challenge capitalizes on the shock factor of putting something so hot in your mouth. Popular YouTube challenges show participants struggling to complete the challenge and expressing intense discomfort from the spicy heat.

Are the chips safe?

While extremely hot and painful, the One Chip Challenge chips are generally safe for most healthy adults to eat. The capsaicin and other compounds that give hot peppers their heat are not toxic or hazardous in normal food amounts. The challenge chip contains no unusually dangerous ingredients beyond the addition of pure capsaicin extracts.

However, the extreme spice level may cause temporary discomfort or pain in the mouth and throat. Some participants report effects like head rushes, nausea, abdominal cramps, shaking and sweating after eating the chip. These effects are temporary but can be alarming if not expected.

As with any super-spicy food, the One Chip Challenge carries risks for certain people. Those with sensitivity to pepper heat or preexisting gastrointestinal issues may react worse to the challenge. There are also choking concerns for those attempting to eat the chip too fast.

Is the One Chip Challenge safe for kids?

When it comes to children, there are some distinct risks that come with the One Chip Challenge. Kids have much more sensitive taste buds compared to adults. The extreme heat and spice level of the One Chip could cause severe oral pain, coughing or gagging in a child. Kids are also at higher risk of choking on the chip if they try to swallow it fast to quell the heat.

The digestive system of children is not primed to handle the high amounts of capsaicin. Eating the One Chip could potentially cause stomach cramps, vomiting or other issues. Kids with underlying food allergies or GI conditions would be especially susceptible.

There are no official age guidelines provided, but the One Chip Challenge packaging contains a warning that reads “Do not eat if you are sensitive to spicy foods, allergic to peppers, nightshades or capsaicin, or are pregnant or have any medical conditions.” This encompasses most children.

Here are the key reasons the One Chip Challenge may be unsafe for kids:

  • It can cause severe mouth and throat pain
  • The spice level increases choking risk
  • It may irritate the digestive tract and cause issues like vomiting or diarrhea
  • Kids are more likely to have allergic reactions to hot peppers
  • Children have more sensitive taste buds and cannot tolerate capsaicin well
  • It could potentially trigger underlying conditions like asthma or GI issues

So while the One Chip Challenge is generally safe for healthy adults, it is not recommended for children due to the risks involved. The heat and spice level is far too dangerous for kids.

What is the appropriate age for the One Chip Challenge?

There is no official age minimum set by the One Chip Challenge brand itself. However, medical experts advise against anyone under 15-16 years attempting the challenge.

By ages 15-16, most teens have a maturity level to appropriately decide if they can handle intense spice. Their taste buds have dulled slightly from childhood and their digestive systems have matured. Still, caution is advised.

For less spicy-food tolerant teens, it may be smarter to wait until adulthood at 18+ years old. At this point, the body is fully matured and better equipped to handle the One Chip’s extreme heat.

Of course, some brave teens may try the challenge regardless of warnings. In these cases, parental supervision is highly recommended in case of allergic reaction or other medical issues. Do not allow any child under 10 years old to attempt the One Chip Challenge, as serious risks exist.

Tips for supervising teens who take the One Chip Challenge

If your mature teen plans to attempt the One Chip Challenge, keep these tips in mind:

– Check that they have no food allergies or conditions exacerbated by spicy food

– Have milk, yogurt, ice cream or other dairy products available to help cool mouth heat

– Ensure they eat a full meal before attempting the challenge

– Ban soda or carbonated drinks, as bubbles can intensify the burning feeling

– Do not let them rub their eyes or touch sensitive areas after eating the chip to avoid skin irritation

– Monitor for signs of allergic reaction like swelling, hives, vomiting or difficulty breathing

– Let them stop the challenge at any time if the heat becomes too unbearable

– Avoid recording for social media, as it may encourage risk-taking behavior

With proper precautions, the One Chip Challenge can be a safe albeit painful experience for some mature teens looking to test their spice tolerance. But never force or coerce a child to participate.

Health risks of eating extremely spicy food

Beyond the One Chip Challenge specifically, consuming extremely spicy foods does come with some health risks especially for children:

Digestive issues

Too much capsaicin can irritate the mouth, esophagus and stomach lining. This may cause pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Kids are at higher risk as their digestive systems are more sensitive.

Damaged taste buds

Capsaicin can cause taste bud receptors to become inflamed and damaged. This may temporarily or permanently alter sense of taste. Children have more taste buds than adults, so damage could be more extensive.

Choking hazard

Trying to swallow a piece of super spicy food can trigger coughing, gagging or choking. The cough reflex helps dispel capsaicin vapor, but makes it harder to swallow. Choking risk is increased.

Skin and eye irritation

Touching the eyes, nose or mouth after handling chili peppers can cause significant burning. Kids may accidentally rub their eyes and face, increasing risk of injury.

Allergic reaction

Those with pepper or food allergies may react badly to spicy food challenges. Anaphylaxis is possible in those with capsaicin allergies. Kids have higher allergy risk.

Exacerbation of conditions

Extreme spice can worsen issues like asthma, GERD, IBS or stomach ulcers. The strain on bodily systems may trigger complications.

So while spicy food enjoyment can be built up safely over time, extreme heat challenges like the One Chip are risky especially for kids unaccustomed to any spice. Mild exposure is a better approach to avoid health issues.

Safer spicy snack alternatives for kids

Instead of an ultra-hot challenge chip, introduce kids to spice through these safer options:

Mild salsa

Look for “kids” salsa with lowered heat, or make your own mild chunky salsa. Great with tortilla chips or quesadillas.

Spicy pizzas or pastas

Add a sprinkle of chili flakes or chili oil to pizza and pasta dishes to let kids explore flavor.


Kid-friendly curries like butter chicken, korma or masala use spices like cumin, coriander, cinnamon and turmeric for warmth without excessive heat.

Cajun seasonings

Dash a small amount of Cajun or Creole seasoning into dips, dressings or chips for a kick of paprika, onion and garlic.

Wasabi peas

These Japanese peas bring tang without extreme heat. Bonus – they are packed with protein.

Sweet chili sauce

Mix chili garlic sauce with a touch of honey or maple syrup to create a customizable dipping sauce for chicken tenders, fries and more.

Spicy trail mixes

Make your own blend with almonds, peanuts, raisins and a sprinkle of chili flakes or cayenne pepper. Adjust heat to preference.

Hot honey

Add hot pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to honey for a sweet heat drizzle over biscuits, nuggets or yogurt parfaits.

With supervision and gradual exposure to spice, kids can explore and appreciate flavors at a safe level. Reserve ultra-hot challenges for consenting adults only.


The One Chip Challenge may be safe for most healthy adults, but poses too much risk for children under 15-16 years old at minimum. Kids should never be forced to take an ultra-spicy food challenge, as their young taste buds and digestive systems cannot tolerate levels of heat made for mature adults.

While spice tolerance can be built up gradually, extreme heat risks like the One Chip carry potential for lasting pain, injury and other medical issues in kids. Parents are best serving children by introducing mild levels of spice safely, avoiding dangerous viral challenges made for views rather than child entertainment. With so many milder spicy snacks to explore, save the super-hot One Chip Challenge until your teens are older and can consent to the risks involved.