Following on from tangoing and planking, the new YouTube craze sweeping schools is called ‘the cinnamon challenge’, in which kids try to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon without water. Unfortunately — like most such crazes — it’s potentially dangerous.
Anybody who puts a tablespoon of cinnamon in their mouth will get burning of the mouth,” said Dr. Fred Kern from Bridgewater Pediatrics. “They’ll also potentially burn the throat, and most importantly, the small particles in cinnamon can get trapped in the lung and cause lung infections.”
Officials at the Bridgewater Raynham Regional School District have sent a letter to parents warning them that it’s far from harmless fun and they should talk to their children about it. Cinnamon is caustic and can corrode body tissue. There are some reports of children needing ventilators to breath after trying the challenge.
This will come as a surprise to most children who view it merely as another flavoring they are used to in their food. ‘It’s just cinnamon’ would be a common refrain.
“Somebody offered me 100 bucks to do it,” said Michael O’Connor, a junior at Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School.
“You’re eyes get all watery, and you feel like you’re going to faint,” said O’Connor of the time he tried it. “It’s like swallowing sand, like a spoonful of sand. It’s awful.”
From the 30,000 plus videos of people doing the challenge it’s clear that it’s not just a schoolchildren fad and that adults are taking part. Pat Quinn, the Governor of Illinois, attempted it live on Chicago radio last month. Although most people don’t appear to have a serious reaction to the challenge, and the usual result is a coughing fit and some vomiting, some people are being admitted to hospital with lung problems after taking part and doctors warn that if the craze continues it could easily kill someone.
Dr Kern warned that children with respiratory problems such as asthma would be among the highest risk groups, but all children should avoid taking part.