A Worcester family is asking for the One Chip Challenge to be banned after their 14-year-old, Harris Wolobah, died hours after participating. The Wolobah family is devastated by their loss, but they want to warn other parents about this social media challenge. “I hope, I pray to God that no parents will go through what I’m going through,” Lois Wolobah, Harris’s mother, said.
Wolobah went to pick up her son from Doherty High School after receiving a call that he fainted after eating the chip from a friend. She asked him what chip he ate and was shown a picture of the Paqui brand 2023 “One Chip Challenge.” This product comes in a box with the solitary chip wrapped inside and is labeled “Carolina Reaper + Naga Viper Pepper.” Harris would later faint again at home and go to the emergency room, where he would pass away. Harris was a healthy young man with no pre-existing conditions known to his family.
They are still waiting for an official cause of death from the Massachusetts Medical Examiner, pending an autopsy. The Wolobah family is convinced this chip made him sick and eventually caused his death.
The “One Chip Challenge” is a social media challenge where people will eat this extremely spicy chip. The aim is to consume the chip without any other food or drink for relief. The back of the packaging does say “Keep out of reach of children.” This chip can be found online and in stores across the nation, including a store 10 minutes away from Doherty High School. This chip contains capsaicin and consumption can cause mouth and throat pain. More serious health problems like heart attack and esophageal damage can occur.
The Wolobah family is begging for the brand to be removed from store shelves and the challenge to be banned. The Worcester community has planned a basketball fundraiser to help the family pay for funeral expenses.
While Paqui did not comment about this situation at first, they have ultimately decided to pull the chip from shelves. Paqui released the following statement to their website:
“The Paqui One Chip Challenge is intended for adults only, with clear and prominent labeling highlighting the chip is not for children, or anyone sensitive to spicy foods or who has food allergies, is pregnant or has underlying health conditions. We have seen an increase in teens and other individuals not heeding these warnings. As a result, while the product continues to adhere to food safety standards, out of an abundance of caution, we are actively working with our retailers to remove the product from shelves.”
The company will offer refunds for the product, customers can contact 1-866-528-6848 for more information.