PSA: Don’t take the Cinnamon Challenge

Oh, it’s good to be past the stupid kid phase, but it’s too bad many are not. One bit of painful excess I’ve heard about for many years is the Cinnamon Challenge, in which you try to gulp down a teaspoon of cinnamon without water. I’ve never been tempted in the slightest — see what I mean about growing old up? — but apparently a lot of people are more impulsive or more susceptible to the double-dog-dare. The problem is that aspirating cinnamon can be very bad for you.

The actual amount of cinnamon isn’t the problem – well over a teaspoon is fine in cookies, apple cider, pies, and other cooked goods. It’s the risk of aspiration (inhaling the stuff) in such a large dose. As Dodgen did, it’s easy to breathe in the cinnamon, “a caustic powder composed of cellulose fibers which are bioresistant and biopersistent; they neither dissolve nor biodegrade in the lungs,” as the Pediatrics authors put it. Too much non-dissolving, non-biodegrading cellulose fibers in your lungs can lead to long-term damage.

Now you know. You won’t succumb, and also, you won’t let your friends do it.


  1. daved says

    My mommy told me not to put beans in my ears…

    A man walks into his doctor’s office. The man has beans in his ears, lettuce in his hair, and a stick of celery up his nose. He says, “Doc, what’s wrong with me?”

    The doctor replies, “You’re not eating right.”

  2. dianne says

    Thank you, my urge to eat a spoonful of cinnamon without water has gone from zero to zero. OTOH, I am now craving snickerdoodles and apple tarts, so your effort wasn’t totally in vain as far as I’m concerned.

  3. Anthony K says

    So who breathes when they eat? Fuckers who ain’t gonna win the cinnamon challenge, that’s who.

    Now, if you want a real lung-defying challenge, try gulping down half a bottle of Buckley’s. It takes some finesse to find the right amount that’ll close your throat up just long enough to ride the panic wave into hypoxic euphoria but no so long as to cause syncope, but it’s worth it if any of the above-described experience appeals to your personal sense of worth it.

  4. Nemo says

    I hadn’t heard of this one, but that stupid salt and ice challenge was big a few months ago. And a few days ago, there was this thing going around where people contorted their fingers into a tight square (kind of looks like a swastika, actually); I think that was another “challenge”.

    Yeah, I’ve never been impressed by “I dare you!”.

  5. roro80 says

    Ah, Tosh’s most potent mark on our cultural landscape. Can his 15 minutes be over now? Please?

  6. becca says

    according to my kids (who are up on all these things), the cinnamon challenge is *old*, so old it’s passé.

  7. says

    Reminds me of my dudebro classmates in Thailand.

    “These chilis are very very hot, best not to eat them alone.”

    “Let’s have a chili-eating contest!”

    Minutes later: “AAAAAH I CAN’T SEE!!!”

  8. grumpyoldfart says

    Kids who now know the dangers will now be actively seeking kids who don’t – and then daring them to do it.

  9. jamessweet says

    Thank you NitricAcid, for being the only not-disgustingly-old person here. Yeah, I’m really disappointed to her about the bio-persistence, cuz otherwise I would seriously try this RIGHT NOW.

  10. carolw says

    Yeah, the Cinnamon Challenge is old. The new thing is the Condom Challenge. Snort an unrolled condom up the nose, tip first, through the sinuses, and out the roof of the mouth. I am not kidding. Consult YouTube or your local adolescent.

  11. spandrel says

    I’ve aspirated cinnamon. Not deliberately, but I’ve often sprinkled large quantities of it on hot chocolate etc. and drank without stirring properly. I’m sure I’ve breathed in a significant amount over my lifetime. I appreciate the warning.

  12. says

    I just put a spice pound cake in the oven. Since it’s for the boy scout cake auction, I made sure to listen to lots of gay music and chant feminist slogans while mixing. I didn’t snort any of the cinnamon, but the cardamom I spilled made my kitchen smell nice.

  13. Rob says

    carolw –

    The new thing is the Condom Challenge. Snort an unrolled condom up the nose, tip first, through the sinuses, and out the roof of the mouth. I am not kidding. Consult YouTube or your local adolescent.

    Sorry, decades old…

  14. amycote says

    Never heard of the Cinnamon Challenge, but I have heard of the Wasabi Challenge!

  15. carlie says

    I recall reading way back when it was popular (:p) that it can also set off potentially fatal asthma attacks.

    Here is possibly the most famous video of someone trying to eat it (no asthma attack), which serves as a pretty good anti-cinnamon PSA.

  16. says

    Anthony K,
    I think I might be able to do the Buckley’s challenge. I have to admit, I kind of like the stuff, I love the feeling, the coolness, after I have a few tablespoons of the stuff. Now, half a bottle would be extreme and my stomach might be unhappy afterward, but I would consider giving that one a shot.

  17. says

    Also, I had no idea Buckley’s was a Canadian product. I was just reading a thread elsewhere about Screech, Kinder Eggs and other goodies that are pretty common here but not in the US.

  18. ck says

    Kinder Eggs are banned in the United States due to the small parts in the toy container inside the egg. Yes, seriously. As far as I know Screech hasn’t been banned yet.

  19. says

    Kinder Eggs are banned in the United States due to the small parts in the toy container inside the egg

    It boggles the mind. The small parts are stored in a large pellet inside the egg. It is not as though a kid is going to eat the egg and somehow ingest the parts at the same time. If kids want to swallow small objects I am sure they can find plenty in their own homes. Anyway, the situation I came across was some Americans going to an event in the US, hoping that Canadians that are also attending might also bring our contraband goods. If I was going I would pack my bag with nothing but Kinder Eggs.

  20. ck says

    I don’t think there has actually been any reported cases of someone swallowing the parts. It’s just a mindless following of a rule that was set for the regulatory body. You might not want to pack your bag with them — I understand the fines are pretty stiff.

    It is fun to bring up whenever someone complains about “nanny-state” regulations in Canada, though. It’s even more fun when they suggest that Canada should emulate the United States as part of their rant.

  21. says

    I guess moderation might be a good thing. Just bring a few perhaps. Ahh, the nanny state. I hate that term, especially when I see how it is used. At least I can go to Cuba if I happen to feel like it.

  22. frog says

    Ah, another entry for my personal “What the hell is WRONG with people?” diary.

    Why does anybody need to be told this is dangerous and stupid? How is that not obvious?

  23. DLC says

    Ulysses @1: they’re not huffing it, but pouring a teaspoon full in their mouth and trying to swallow it. the problem is, cinnamon is a very fine powder mostly made of cellulose particles, and takes a bunch of liquid to get down the gullet. Much more than most people can generate with ordinary salivation, in fact. So, what happens is you end up with a ball of the stuff stuck in your mouth which you can’t swallow. Then you try to breathe, and the stuff gets sucked down the wind pipe into the lungs, where it causes inflammation, irritation and possibly permanent lung damage.