Food Challenges: The Bad & the Ugly


“I double-dog dare you!”

As kids, we used to dare each other to stick our tongues against frozen poles or to sing “I’m a Little Teapot” in front of all our friends. Now that we’re in college, we’re daring each other to do food challenges and to post the happenings on YouTube.

Many college students do food challenges that involve chugging a gallon of milk in under an hour or stuffing six saltines in your mouth at once. However, the most popular food challenge is the cinnamon challenge in which one has to eat a spoonful of cinnamon. Sounds easy, right?  But what do these food challenges actually do your body?

Jeremy Ertl, a student at Winona State University, like many others, thought that the cinnamon challenge couldn’t be that terrible.

“It looked fun and I wanted to see if it was really that bad,” Ertl said.

It really was.

“It was like trying to swallow sand. Just super dry, almost the sensation of choking. It makes it almost impossible to swallow,” Ertl said.

The cinnamon challenge has negative effects on your body, according to Professor Arlene Spark, a Professor of nutrition at the City University of New York.

“When dry and concentrated it [cinnamon] can cause burning and irritation of the mouth and perhaps also the esophagus,” Spark said.

Other food challenges have negative effects on a person’s body, which is why in most cases; the body rejects the food, such as in the milk challenge.

“The body cannot produce enough lactase (enzyme) to digest the sugar contained in milk (lactose) which will likely lead to gas, cramps and diarrhea,” Spark said.

Although there are obvious negative short-term effects that these challenges have on the body, there are no proven long-term health effects associated with them, according to Spark. Ertl said that a few minutes after  the challenge, he felt back to normal.

“Never let the Internet convince you to try something,” Ertl said. However, if you do feel the need to try anything once, Ertl said, “If you try it, do it with a friend. Makes the pain worth it for the laughter.”


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