Let’s Spice Things Up!

Unless you lived under a rock in 2012, you have probably heard about, or even attempted, the Cinnamon Challenge. You were either dared to do it or stepped up to the challenge to try and show off, because it definitely was not something you wanted to do just for fun. In case you are unaware of what the Cinnamon Challenge actually is, “the objective of the challenge is to film oneself swallowing a spoonful of ground cinnamon in under 60 seconds without drinking anything, then upload the video to the Internet”. You may be thinking, “Oh that doesn’t sound to bad”, but believe me, it’s pretty bad.

I have taken the challenge twice. The first time I don’t really count because I did not put the whole spoonful into my mouth, but the second time I made sure to take it all in. I lasted less than 10 seconds because I started to laugh, and it all went downhill from there. Cinnamon powder spewing everywhere, me trying to grasp for oxygen, and then me running to a garbage can to throw up everything I had just eaten for lunch (sorry for the mental images). Whether we know it or not, the Cinnamon Challenge is dangerous and could be really bad for our health. However, people continue to take the challenge and post their failures on YouTube. “As of August 10, 2012, there were 51100 YouTube clips depicting the Cinnamon Challenge. One video was viewed .19 million times, predominantly by 13- to 24year-olds, ages similar to people taking the Cinnamon Challenge and associated with the greatest need for conformity”.

The challenge is close to impossible because of the substance found in cinnamon, known as cellulose. The cellulose does not break down and can end up coating the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. There are substantial health risks from the cellulose such as coughing, gagging, vomiting and further inhalation of cinnamon that leads to throat irritation, breathing difficulties, and risk of pneumonia or a collapsed lung.

In 2011, 51 calls were made to the US American Association of Poison Control Centers relating to the Cinnamon Challenge. For the first 6 months of 2012, there were 178 calls dealing with this viral issue; 122 (69%) were classified as intentional misuse or abuse of cinnamon and 30 (17%) required medical attention. According to the Florida Poison Information Center in Miami, between the span of one year from 2011-2012, “there were 26 calls regarding cinnamon exposure in individuals ranging from age 1.5 to 83 years”. Most of these patients were okay after washing out their system. Five cases involved follow-ups which were resolved in a couple of hours. Two of these cases had potentially toxic exposure from the Cinnamon Challenge.

Do people follow other’s behavior even though we know the risks and danger involved?

Null Hypothesis: People did not take part in the Cinnamon Challenge because they knew the risks involved.

Alternative Hypothesis: People participated in the Cinnamon Challenge after being influenced by others, not taking into account the risks that came along with it.

“The total number of Google hits on this topic rose from 0.2 million in 2009 to 0.9 million in 2010; to 2 million in 2011; and to 2.4 million in the first half of 2012″. This fact supports the alternative hypothesis, but the hypothesis is subjective. Not everyone that participates in the cinnamon challenge does it because they don’t care about the risks. They might not know the risks at the time or they might simply disregard what could happen. Some people might not take part in the challenge because they were not presented with the opportunity, or it wasn’t in their personal interest, or they have pre-existing medical issues such as asthma. There are a lot of third variables that can be taken into consideration when it comes to studying why people do the Cinnamon Challenge.

I have done the Cinnamon Challenge before, so I can speak from experience. I do not suggest anyone to try and challenge themselves by trying to eat a spoonful of cinnamon. Don’t do cinnamon, kids!





5 thoughts on “Let’s Spice Things Up!

  1. zsw5031

    Like the other three individuals who commented on this post, I too engaged in the cinnamon challenge. And just like the others, I failed miserably. I enjoyed reading the science behind why it is impossible to achieve eating the spoon full of cinnamon. I personally did not know that the cinnamon challenge can be bad for your health. I find that very interesting and informative. Here is a link describing why the challenge is bad for your health. It is a good read. http://wtvr.com/2013/04/23/the-cinnamon-challenge-is-bad-for-your-health/

  2. das5959

    This was hysterical to read. I totally forgot about the cinnamon challenge until you brought it up. I actually had no Idea it was that bad for you, I thought it was just a party trick like the Banana Sprite Challenge. As you said, I can’t imagine cellulose being good going into your lungs. Especially if it’s actually also found in Cigarette Filters

  3. Dean Giammarco

    This is a great post! I did the cinnamon challenge and long story short it didn’t go very well. I always wondered why this happened, the same test with sugar or salt wouldn’t have the same effect. After looking up the cinnamon challenge and other challenges I stumbled across the flour challenge. This time a ladle full! But nothing different here, the same effect as the cinnamon challenge happens and its due to the same cellulose issue. Check this out with other challenges just like the cinnamon challenge. http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/insane-food-challenges#.nhgVDWNV9V

  4. Kristen

    I can also relate to this since I as well did the cinnamon challenge a few years ago, and also, instantly failed. The interesting part is I knew that the cinnamon challenge was bad for your health (I mean everyone was throwing up and coughing non stop when doing it) yet I did this challenge as a result of those around me doing it- it became a social challenge. I think that most teens participated in this challenge because of the social pressures with it like many other challenges we face. Another challenge I did-and dreaded- but did because of how widely popular this became was the “Polar Plunge.” Here’s an article explaining the Polar Plunge but essentially it requires tagging your friends and jumping into freezing cold water. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/04/29/the-latest-social-media-challenge-is-dangerous-but-probably-wont-be-around-for-long/

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