Don’t try this at home, kids—even if it wasn’t so last year

Image courtesy of Sam Mugraby,, via Wikimedia Commons

Image courtesy of Sam Mugraby,, via Wikimedia Commons

The cinnamon challenge. If you didn’t know about it before, no doubt you’ve heard of it by now: It’s a big YouTube phenomenon where you swallow a spoonful of cinnamon and record it for posterity so that people the world over can see what a moron you are—and then try to replicate it themselves so they, too, will go down in YouTube infamy.

I think I’d maybe heard about this a while back, but it didn’t really enter into my consciousness until this week. This week was when the journal “Pediatrics” published a paper on how potentially life-threatening it can be to do the cinnamon challenge. Apparently cinnamon, in addition to being a delightful spice that adds a certain flavor nuance to apple pie, contains some caustic substance that, when inhaled, can scar lung tissue. Teens have ended up in the hospital with collapsed lungs from doing the cinnamon challenge.

The media, being the good lemmings that they are—I’m not judging, for while not a bona fide journalist, I am quite the lemming—all glommed on to the story and made sure to put it into their news rotation. NPR, the New York Times, HuffPost… they all ran the story.

In fact, the outlets did such a tremendous job covering this issue that even my mother called and left me voicemail, which, had I bothered to listen to it carefully, probably went something like: “Anne, Channel 7 had a news story on the cinnamon challenge. It’s very dangerous. Kids are ending up in the hospital. Make sure you tell the children how dangerous it is.”

I didn’t need any urging from my mother, actually. For while I immediately dismissed the possibility of Billup being stupid enough to try this, I realized that Boof, being a 14-year-old boy, could indeed be enough of an idiot to do such a thing with his friends. It was a slim possibility, yes, but then again, this was the child who apparently had a contest last year with one of his friends to see how much wasabi they could stand to swallow. (It was a proud day when Boof informed me that he had won!)

So, I told them. It was more me kind of shouting at them, “Don’t do the cinnamon challenge!”, but it got their attention.

Oddly, they weren’t nearly as concerned as I was. Or, I should say, their concern seemed to center more on why I was so hyper-focused on something so outdated.

Billup [confusion in her voice]: “The cinnamon challenge? But that was like a year ago. Is anyone even doing the cinnamon challenge now?”

Boof [derision in his voice]: “Mom, why are you talking about the cinnamon challenge?? That’s so old. You’re so behind! No one cares about it anymore.”

Well, that’s not quite true. Pediatricians care. The media cares. So do parents, and grandparents.

The problem is, we’re all apparently caring about this a year too late.

Which leaves me to wonder: What other moronic things could my kids be doing, or be considering doing, that I will later discover is incredibly dangerous?

I’m sure the media will tell me a year from now.


4 thoughts on “Don’t try this at home, kids—even if it wasn’t so last year

  1. The cinnamon challenge?! It’s funny, scary, and weird all mixed together. By hey, it’s so true that by the time parents, authority figures, and the media are paying attention to something related to the under 20 crowd, it’s already old news to them.

    • So, does this mean you’ve tried the cinnamon challenge?? So curious about it. But yeah, what to do when as a parent you’re finding out way too late about what your kids are involved in??

  2. When I was teaching a few of my students tried the cinnamon challenge, and I tried to talk them out of it. I don’t know who comes up with these stupid, dangerous stunts, or how they get so many people to do them!!!

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