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Rod Brouhard, EMT  P

Cinnamon Challenge: Dangerous or Just Plain Dumb?

By September 22, 2010

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When I was a kid, we used to challenge each other to all kinds of stupid activities. Growing up in farm country, most of the really idiotic challenges involved electric fences, cattle prods and BB guns.

Our saving grace was the fact that regardless how many people were there to see you fail miserably and/or cry like a baby, those were the only people who would ever know how your ugly cry face really looked. We didn't have the internet, and more importantly, we didn't have YouTube.

Nowadays, everyone loads videos of themselves or their friends trying these ridiculous dares on the internet for everyone to see -- and to emulate. This wouldn't be such a bad thing, if kids only did safe stuff.

The problem is that people do really dangerous things and load the evidence of their stupidity right there on the internet for millions of adoring fans (or millions of amazed viewers wondering how come the person in the video isn't dead). If that's where it stopped, I guess it wouldn't be any big deal.

But it doesn't stop there. Once your neighborhood jester gets a million hits on a video of him dropping a string of lit firecrackers down his BVD's, a hundred more want to do the same thing in hopes of being instant internet video celebrities. Come one, come all, right?

Now there's a bunch of monkey-see, monkey-do vids out there of people -- adults and kids alike -- trying to slurp up a spoonful of dry cinnamon powder without the benefit of water -- or sugar, apples, cream or anything else that makes cinnamon tolerable. They call it the Cinnamon Challenge. (Who's challenging them, anyway?)

I've watched one successful challenger, but the rest have pretty visceral reactions to the taste or texture of dry cinnamon. In some cases, it looks as if they're going to puke. Indeed, sometimes they do puke. It's not fun to watch. Even the successful young lady was not exactly graceful, elegant or attractive as she beat the challenge.

Well, at least she didn't puke.

Now throughout the blogosphere there is word that the Cinnamon Challenge is dangerous. Unnamed "health experts" are credited with saying that cinnamon powder can cause chest pain or be deadly. To that I say, "Maybe."

Granulated foods or powder foods can be dangerous in large amounts. Several years ago I responded to a young diabetic girl. Her mother panicked when faced with her daughter's low blood sugar and poured granulated sugar down the girl's throat. The sugar filled her airway and she died from choking.

That's not the same thing as the Cinnamon Challenge. The point of the challenge is to work on a single tablespoon of cinnamon. For most people, that shouldn't be enough to plug your airway. Unfortunately, the only way we'll ever know for sure is when somebody actually dies from trying to eat a spoonful of cinnamon.

You don't want to be the first.

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November 26, 2011 at 2:04 pm
(1) Mike says:

Right now I have a 17-year-old girl in the hospital who kept down her tablespoon of cinnamon and proceeded to develop a dangerously rapid heart rate (about 200). Her prize was a frightening night in the ER and ICU. So far it appears that she will survive. It seems that the cinnamon challenge is a real “no-win” game.

January 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm
(2) Ruthie says:

As an asthmatic person I’m sure I can end up in the hospital or dead if I try this challenge.

January 27, 2012 at 6:45 am
(3) paul says:

i have done the cinnamon challenge before, twice. i didnt have chest pains or a rapid heart beat. i didnt throw up or spit it out i “won” the challenge. i was talking to my friend a few days ago and he challenged me 3 tablespoons, i said id only do it if he did. think its too risky?

January 27, 2012 at 4:44 pm
(4) cynthia says:

Knock yourself out Paul. Perhaps you should emulate this entire video clip and see if the outcome is the same for you ツ

January 28, 2012 at 2:44 am
(5) James McDougle says:

obviously, either u haven’t seen anyone do it, have no sense of humor, or a just an emo prick with no life. Are you serious when you say it’s not funny to see?

January 29, 2012 at 12:12 am
(6) fortt says:

Umm. I have done the cinnamon challenge, won and had a laugh.

January 29, 2012 at 4:16 am
(7) RickBoss says:

this kid died.


…then reincarnated.

February 1, 2012 at 4:37 am
(8) Mark says:

natural selection isn’t the worst thing to happen

February 1, 2012 at 7:40 am
(9) Trill says:

This is a very pointless article and man o man you are one dumb cookie Rod.

February 1, 2012 at 11:26 am
(10) earl says:

i died doin this

February 1, 2012 at 10:04 pm
(11) Freakout says:

I say let them do it. Let them die. I call it thinning the human race. Dont need people that stupid in the world anyway.

February 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm
(12) Taylor says:

Any medical expert in their right mind would recommend against this. I’ve seen an adult do this challenge and they thought you are supposed to use the biggest spoon you can find. Just because it’s the general rule, doesn’t mean it will be followed.

Stupidity at its finest.

February 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm
(13) Carlo says:

You tell us cinnamon powder is dangerous when you yourself are talking about electric fences, cattle prods, and bb guns. Makes me want to electrocute, prod, and shoot you with a bb gun.

February 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm
(14) Cody says:

I’ve beat the cinnamon challenge..
It’s not that bad.
But the time I failed I couldn’t breathe, and it got stuck in my throat.

February 22, 2012 at 6:17 pm
(15) Seph says:

I tried it and died. I was eventually reincarnated. I’m gonna try it again.

March 2, 2012 at 4:03 pm
(16) derp says:

I sharted when I coughed. Such a delightful fail. Would’ve been best if I just died.

March 3, 2012 at 10:52 pm
(17) Carrie says:

STUPID! these days some people can never make the right choices

March 9, 2012 at 7:04 pm
(18) Non ya says:

I did it 2 times in school and I’m am fine

March 18, 2012 at 10:07 pm
(19) Devin Fitz. says:

I’m a 16 year old boy, it’s sad to hear about this stuff but I have done the challenge and I did it. It was hard yes but I did it along with other stupid challenges. I beat the cinnamon challenge, never barfed or anything.

April 11, 2012 at 10:08 am
(20) Lola says:

The cinnamon challenge is incredibly stupid…everyone knows cinnamon is on the spicy side…but I must say the funniest video is Glozell…this simple b**** had obviously never done it and had a vague idea of what it was…so she tried to ingest a ladleful of dry cinnamon….peer pressure peer pressure…smh


April 25, 2012 at 4:40 am
(21) Pds3.14 says:

The funny thing is, I probably have done both the cinnamon and bread challenges at once, I tried pure-cinnamon cinnamon toast, with like 3 or 4 times the normal amount of cinnamon (by accident).
It was totally harmless, but I have no idea if I could safely eat that much… in a spoon, with no other matter involved.

In terms of health risks:
never do this if you have an allergy to large amounts of cinnamon.
tend to get things stuck in your airway or breath them into your lungs when reacting to massive amounts of spice or other flavor.
never do this is if you cannot deal with overwhelming flavors, or inability to swallow quickly.
never do this if nobody is around.
consider the costs and benefits, if you really must do this, try, say, 10% the volume, you might want to reconsider, wet cinnamon is easy to eat, but dry globs aerosolize, and turn into a plume of spicey smoke, meaning fast consumption will lead to more aerosolized cinnamon powder, and less that has been dissolved in water.
Also, allergies, asthma and the like are definitely a bad thing, as per the comment about going to the ER with a 200 Heart rate.
again, I have never eaten a tablespoonful of cinnamon at once, don’t do this unless you have an idea of what could and will happen, in other words, you have experience with consuming smaller volumes of cinnamon in a similar manner, and know FOR SURE that you won’t fall dead a minute later due to allergies or asthma.

June 1, 2012 at 4:44 pm
(22) KimmyB says:

Natural selection?

July 3, 2012 at 1:26 am
(23) Joseph says:

Just watch shoenice22 on youtube. He eats a bunch of random things. He ate the ENTIRE BOTTLE of cinnamon in one video in under a minute.


July 6, 2012 at 9:10 pm
(24) Mia says:

There is a safe way to do the cinnamon challenge you have to keep the cinnamon in front of your mouth, create a lot of saliva so that it gets really wet, then swallow it.

July 8, 2012 at 11:29 am
(25) Jamie says:

In terms of health risks:
never do this if you have an allergy to large amounts of cinnamon.


October 1, 2012 at 5:56 am
(26) Liz says:

People saying not to do this if you have an allergy to large amounts of it, uumm isnt that comon sense ? But you probs wouldnt know if u did have an allergy untill you try it with that much

January 6, 2013 at 6:35 pm
(27) C says:

As a medic, I can tell you that the risks to this are real – if you inhale cinnamon (or anything else for that matter) you can cause a serious infection in your lunges and URT. Vomiting and tachycardia are less of a risk, as we all vomit from time to time and a hight heartrate is only dangerous if it’s prolonged or over ~130. The comment about 200+ sounds alarming but that’s probably linked to an underlying condition. There’s also a risk that as the cinnamon becomes moist it can form lumps and obstruct the airway. It’s a stupid thing to do, and seeing a medic suggest it might be alright makes me ashamed! What a prick!

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