Cinnamon challenge

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The cinnamon challenge involves consuming one spoonful of powdered cinnamon.

The cinnamon challenge is a viral internet food challenge. Participants film themselves eating a spoonful of ground cinnamon in under 60 seconds without drinking anything,[1] with the video being uploaded to the Internet as evidence.[2][3][4] The challenge is difficult and carries substantial health risks because the cinnamon coats and dries the mouth and throat, resulting in coughing, gagging, vomiting, and inhalation of cinnamon, which can in turn lead to throat irritation, breathing difficulties, and risk of pneumonia[1] or a collapsed lung.[5]

The challenge has been described online since 2001, and increased in popularity in 2007, peaking abruptly in January 2012 and falling off almost as sharply through the first half of that year, then tapering off almost to its previous level by 2014.[6][non-primary source needed] By 2010, many people had posted videos of themselves attempting this challenge on YouTube and other social networking websites.[3] At the peak, Twitter mentions reached nearly 70,000 per day.[7][8]

Health dangers[edit]

The stunt can be dangerous, as there is a risk of gagging or choking on the cinnamon, especially if it forms a clump and clogs one's airways. Accidental inhalation of cinnamon can seriously damage the lungs[3] by causing inflammation and leading to infection.[9] The usual result of this stunt is "a coughing, gagging fit involving clouds of cinnamon" which "leaves some people gasping for air".[9] Sometimes those performing the stunt may gag, choke or cough and accidentally exhale the cinnamon through their noses, coating their skin and mucous membranes in cinnamon.[10] As cinnamon is rich in the compound cinnamaldehyde that can irritate skin and tissues,[11] the challenge often results in considerable irritation, discomfort, burning, or itching of the affected nasal tissue and nostrils. Preclinical studies in rats have shown that the cellulose fibers which comprise cinnamon are also responsible for triggering allergic hypersensitivity reactions.[12] On YouTube, people have been seen "coughing, choking and lunging for water, usually as friends watch and laugh."[13] Vomiting is also known to have occurred.[13]

Cinnamon contains the chemical coumarin which is moderately toxic to the liver and kidney if ingested in large amounts.[14]

The cinnamon challenge can be life-threatening or fatal.[15] In the first three months of 2012, American poison control centers received over a hundred phone calls as a result of the cinnamon challenge.[1] A teenager in Michigan spent four days in a hospital after attempting the cinnamon challenge.[16] Pneumonia, inflammation and scarring of the lungs, and collapsed lungs are further risks.[12][17][5][18]

In popular culture[edit]

The cinnamon challenge was aired on the twelfth series of the reality television show Big Brother UK, in which show participants were to ingest ground cinnamon without the aid of water.[19][20] Radio programs have also aired segments of people performing this stunt,[21][22][23] and others in the public limelight have been reported as airing the stunt for public display, including NBA players Nick Young and JaVale McGee.[7][24]

An excerpt from a cinnamon challenge video

Many people upload their cinnamon challenge to YouTube. Comedian Colleen Ballinger told The Wall Street Journal that she took the challenge in character as Miranda Sings, in 2012, to increase her YouTube traffic after hundreds of her fans had asked her to take the challenge. Her video received more than 2 million views, even though it is on a discontinued YouTube channel.[8][25] Another comedian, GloZell Green, has attracted more than 59 million views with her cinnamon challenge video, in which she uses a soup ladle full of cinnamon instead of the usual tablespoon.[26][27]

A large group attempt at the cinnamon challenge was held in 2012 at RMIT University in Australia and involved 64 participants in quick succession.[28] In a 2012 episode of the Discovery Channel series MythBusters, each member of the Build Team attempted the challenge. Kari Byron and Grant Imahara failed, while Tory Belleci completed it by tucking his spoonful into his cheek and letting saliva accumulate in his mouth until he could swallow. However, it took him more than 60 seconds to do so.[29]

In the 2013 episode of Chicago Fire titled "Defcon 1", a cinnamon challenge is held to determine who will get to live in Severide's new apartment. The challenge is abandoned, and the team is reprimanded by the chief. In 2015, Freddie Flintoff took the challenge on A League of Their Own (S9 ep1), and Criminal Minds actor Matthew Gray Gubler was recorded taking the challenge unsuccessfully.[30] The challenge is also featured on Fox's Family Guy's 14th-season opener, "Pilling Them Softly", in which Peter Griffin makes numerous attempts.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Healy, Melissa (March 28, 2012). "Teens' 'cinnamon challenge': Dangerous, not innocent". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
  2. ^ Shipman, Dustin (April 29, 2008). "'Dr. Food Science' mixes bananas and Sprite, conducts other questionable food experiments". The Joplin Globe. Archived from the original on December 16, 2012. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Huget, Jennifer LaRue (April 5, 2010). "Swallowing cinnamon by the spoonful". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  4. ^ Waxman, Matthew (August 25, 2005). "Milking the situation: To support Florida batboy, I try other food challenges". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  5. ^ a b ""Cinnamon challenge" dangerous to lungs, new report warns". CBS. April 22, 2013. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  6. ^ Google Insights for Search - Web Search Interest: "cinnamon challenge" - Worldwide, 204 - present, Google Insights for Search, accessed July 26, 2016
  7. ^ a b Kogod, Sarah (November 17, 2011). "Nick & JaVale's Cinnamon Challenge". NBC Washington 4. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Keates, Nancy. "Just a Spoonful of Cinnamon Makes the Internet Rounds", The Wall Street Journal, March 14, 2012
  9. ^ a b Painter, Kim. "Cinnamon challenge". USA Today. Archived from the original on February 25, 2014. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
  10. ^ Vohora, D.; Vohora, S.B. (2015). Safety Concerns for Herbal Drugs. CRC Press. p. 79. ISBN 978-1-4822-5662-8. Retrieved May 29, 2017.
  11. ^ Olsen RV, Andersen HH, Møller HG, Eskelund PW, Arendt-Nielsen L (2014). "Somatosensory and vasomotor manifestations of individual and combined stimulation of TRPM8 and TRPA1 using topical L-menthol and trans-cinnamaldehyde in healthy volunteers". European Journal of Pain. 18 (9): 1333–42. doi:10.1002/j.1532-2149.2014.494.x. PMID 24664788. S2CID 34286049.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ a b Grant-Alfieri A, Schaechter J, Lipshultz SE (2013). "Ingesting and aspirating dry cinnamon by children and adolescents: the "cinnamon challenge"". Pediatrics. 131 (5): 833–5. doi:10.1542/peds.2012-3418. PMC 3639465. PMID 23610205.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ a b O'Connor, Anahad (April 22, 2013). "Consequences of the 'Cinnamon Challenge'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 7, 2016. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  14. ^ "Coumarin in cinnamon and cinnamon-based products and risk of liver damage". ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  15. ^ "Mom Pleads For End Of Cinnamon Challenge After Spice Kills Son". Medical Daily. June 9, 2015. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  16. ^ "Michigan teen hospitalized after attempting 'cinnamon challenge'". Fox News. March 7, 2012. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  17. ^ "Teens' 'cinnamon challenge': Dangerous, not innocent". Los Angeles Times. March 28, 2012.
  18. ^ Ewing, Samara. "Cinnamon Challenge Game Has Serious Health Consequences". WUSA9. Archived from the original on April 25, 2013. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
  19. ^ Ledgerton, Selena (October 27, 2011). "Big Brother: Rave On". MSN TV (UK). Archived from the original on November 2, 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  20. ^ Fletcher, Alex (October 27, 2011). "Big Brother: Housemates set Cinnamon Challenge to win '90s rave". Digital Spy. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
  21. ^ "Gulp A Tablespoon Of Cinnamon. "The Cinnamon Challenge"". KROQ Radio (CBS Radio). June 8, 2010. Archived from the original on November 24, 2010. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  22. ^ "Dancing With the Stunts: The Cinnamon Challenge (Photos)". Mix Radio 104.1 (CBS Radio). Archived from the original on October 20, 2011. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  23. ^ "DO NOT Do The Cinnamon Challenge!". US99 (CBS Radio). January 14, 2011. Archived from the original on August 30, 2011. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  24. ^ Steinberg, Dan (November 16, 2011). "Nick Young and JaVale McGee eat spoonfuls of cinnamon". The Washington Post. DC Sports Bog (blog). Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  25. ^ Ballinger, Colleen. Cinnamon Challenge (Miranda Sings)", YouTube, February 2012, accessed May 1, 2016
  26. ^ Green, Glozell. "The Cinnamon Challenge ... by GloZell and her Big Behind Earrings", YouTube, January 30, 2012, accessed May 27, 2016
  27. ^ "YouTube Viewers Flock to Watch Quinn Take 'Cinnamon Challenge'". CBS Chicago. March 19, 2012. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
  28. ^ "RMIT Cinnamon Challenge". YouTube. 2012. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  29. ^ "Mythbusters Cinnamon Challenge", YouTube
  30. ^ "matthew gray gubler calmly eats a spoonful of cinnamon", YouTube
  31. ^ "Family Guy Season 14 Episode 1 Review: Pilling Them Softly". TV Fanatic. September 28, 2015. Retrieved April 5, 2017.