The Cinnamon Challenge Results in an Orange Burst of Dragon Breath.

They say a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. But apparently a spoonful of cinnamon can lead to choking, throat irritation, breathing trouble and even collapsed lungs.

The cinnamon challenge has been a prank that’s been floating around for a few years now, with endless videos on YouTube showing how it’s done. The fad involves daring someone to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without drinking any water. It is indeed a challenge, as the spice is caustic, and leads to choking, and even “cinnamon in your snot” as one prankster put it.

The problem is that cinnamon is made from tree bark and contains cellulose fibers that don't easily break down. The AP reports that animal research suggests that when cinnamon gets into the lungs, it can cause scarring. Cinnamon may seem harmless, but a spoonful of cinnamon is actually quite dangerous.

A recent report in Pediatrics said at least 30 teens nationwide needed medical attention after taking the challenge last year. The number of reported poison control center calls about teens doing the prank "has increased dramatically," from 51 in 2011 to 222 last year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

"People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are at greater risk of having this result in shortness of breath and trouble breathing," according to an alert posted on the association's website.

The problem I see with the challenge is that no one in the videos actually can take it. There is no question that it's going to burn, and you are going to cough, and regret you tried. There are over 40,000 Cinnamon Challenge videos on But where's the challenge? What’s a challenge if no one can actually swallow without difficulty? Consider a pie eating challenge, or hot dog eating competition—the winners are those who can stomach it. Unfortunately, the cinnamon challenge, everyone looses. The only result? An orange burst of dragon breath spewing out of their mouths, then choking, and difficulty breathing. Even though your friends may laugh as you choke and spew cinnamon backwash, it’s incredibly stupid.

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