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The Cinnamon Challenge

By Sherry Kula TuckerIn high school things change fast!   It’s probably old news now, but a few weeks ago the big thing was “The Cinnamon Challenge” and my daughter insisted she must do it. I didn’t think cinnamon sounded too bad so I asked her to tell me more about it.  Quickly she pulled up her Facebook account and started showing me videos of her friends.  “See Mom, it’s funny.  You take a tablespoon of cinnamon and try to swallow it.”

I saw video after video of teenagers taping themselves putting a spoonful of powdered cinnamon in their mouth then spitting out a puff of cinnamon smoke, screaming and chugging water.

I have to admit, some of the videos were funny, but the more I watched the more I was curious as to why it made them so thirsty and why they all tried to get the remains off their tongues.  Isn’t cinnamon good?  It’s not like they had pepper in their mouth.

So, I did the only thing I could think of to do – I Googled it.   I needed to know if this was dangerous and what that amount of cinnamon did to someone who swallowed it.    My daughter was rolling her eyes at me.

What I found is this challenge has been around for decades, but in 2010 it came back and people started videotaping it and putting it on YouTube.   What makes it difficult is that the cinnamon quickly dries out the mouth making it hard to swallow.

It can be dangerous because you can accidentally inhale or choke on the cinnamon, which could cause lung or throat damage.  Another danger with this challenge is coumarin.  Coumarin is a mildly toxic component in some cinnamon that can mess with a diabetic’s blood sugar levels.  I was explaining all this to my unenthused daughter and her friend when I realized I was probably being a bit over-protective.

Since I couldn’t find anything on the Internet about injuries or deaths from this silly antic, I decided to let them do it as long as Amanda’s mom said it was okay.

They went outside with spoons, cinnamon and jugs of water.  My son declined the invitation to join them saying “Why would I do such a stupid thing?”

After lots of giggling and nervousness, they each put a spoonful of spice in their mouths, spit out a puff of powder and drank lots of water while they laughed and spit.

I realized while watching them and laughing with them that I have a smart daughter and she has smart friends. Yes, they want to do silly (okay, stupid) things at times, but I really believe they do and will always stay away from the truly harmful things.   They usually make pretty good choices and maybe, just maybe, I made this a bigger deal than it was.

The girls put their video on Facebook and the next day I received a call for my mom.  “I can not believe you let her do that Cinnamon Challenge, that is dangerous!  She could have died you know!”

In an instant I was happy to be reminded why I tend to be an over-protective parent!  Thanks, Mom!
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  • Dennis

    The bigger issue is not the harmful effects of cinnamon but the submitting to peer pressure. Hopefully teens are taught to make the right decision the majority of times and learn from their stupid ones. Big hugs to the ones who did not do a stupid thing.

  • Roger

    Unbelievable stupidity…on the part of the parents. When these naive teens all watch one of their friends choke to death on a clump of cinnamon that didn’t go down..they will remember it for the rest of their lives.

  • Roger

    Unbelievable stupidity…on the part of the parents. When these naive teens all watch one of their friends choke to death on a clump of cinnamon that didn’t go down..they will remember it for the rest of their lives.

  • Sandy

    I love cinnamon … in oatmeal … in protein drinks. I can handle a lot more cinnamon than most people can, but I won’t try the Cinnamon Challenge. I’m afraid it ruin cinnamon for me.

  • Sandy

    I love cinnamon … in oatmeal … in protein drinks. I can handle a lot more cinnamon than most people can, but I won’t try the Cinnamon Challenge. I’m afraid it ruin cinnamon for me.

  • Gamewarden

    I hope they used the $1. a bottle stuff that tastes the same as the $6 and up Spice Island, Durkees, and other high end products from the Spice section (Pronounced gouge section) of your local grocery chain…

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