The mother of a 14-year-old student said her son died on Friday after suffering complications from eating a very spicy chip in an attempt to partake in a viral social media challenge. According to NBC10 Boston, Harris Wolobah initially became unwell at school after eating the spicy chip. He later collapsed after he was taken home.
The social media challenge, known as the One Chip Challenge, involves participants eating what is deemed as the world’s spiciest tortilla chip. Participants who eat the chip must wait for a long while before consuming either water or food to alleviate the burning sensation. The chip, which is a product of Paqui and is packaged in a coffin, has a warning that states it should be kept out of children’s reach. People who either have an allergen or react to spicy food are also advised not to consume the chip.
A participant who has issues breathing, faints, or experiences prolonged nausea is also advised to seek medical care, a Paqui web page for the One Chip Challenge reportedly states. The challenge has also been in existence for many years. School principals in California’s Bay Area sent out a warning about the chip in 2022, stating that students who consumed the chip had to be sent home, per NBC10 Boston.
In an interview with the news outlet, the deceased teen’s mother said a school nurse told her that her son suffered a severe stomach ache after he ate the chip, adding that the tortilla was given to him by a classmate.
Harris’ condition got better after he was taken home, but he collapsed before leaving for a basketball tryout. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. In the wake of the fatal incident, Harris’ mother, Lois Wolobah, said that her son shouldn’t have been sent home but rather taken to a hospital after suffering complications from eating the spicy chip. She also said she wants others to become aware of the chip to prevent incidents of such nature from occurring again.
In a statement to TODAY last year, a representative for Paqui said the company takes “safety very seriously and have worked hard to ensure our products are properly and clearly labeled with allergen and safety information.”
“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 representative added.
Harris, a student sophomore at Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, Massachusetts, was a basketball player and fan. Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Rachel Monárrez in a statement described the deceased teen as “a rising star.”
“It is with a heavy heart I share that we lost a rising star, Harris Wolobah, who was a sophomore scholar at Doherty Memorial High School. As a mother and educator, I cannot imagine how hard this is on his family, friends and teachers,” Monarrez added. “My heart goes out to all who knew and loved him.”
The teen’s coach, Douglas Hill, also told NBC10 Boston that he was shocked when he got to know about his death. “The first thing was shock, like when they said the name, I had to literally ask a hundred times, like if this was him,” Hill said. “Very quiet kid when you first meet him not a child of many words, smiled, very positive. In a million years, you never would’ve imagined any kid nevertheless Harris, so it was definitely difficult.”