History of Internet Food Challenges

The cloud of brown that billows into the air after someone fails the cinnamon challenge is iconic. To many, the best part of a food challenge video is the look of misery in the participants eyes, whether it be during or after the challenge. More than likely, anyone who has browsed YouTube has watched a food challenge of some sort. These challenges involve eating or drinking a certain quantity of a food, sometimes within a set time limit. Although they might sound trivial, they can be very tough. As many challengers have learned, usually at their own expense, these challenges are anything but trivial. Food challenges precede Internet based video-sharing, so it is hard to know when the first cinnamon, saltine, or gallon challenge was attempted. However, we can trace when they were first posted on the Internet. The very first cinnamon challenge to appear on the Internet was in 2001. It was titled Cinnamon Challenge 2001, and was posted on a man named Michael Buffington’s personal blog. For those who do not know what the cinnamon challenge is, one must attempt to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon in under a minute without any water. The earliest cinnamon challenge posted on YouTube was put up on April 2nd, 2006, titled “Pipe Attempts the Cinnamon Challenge.” “After doing the cinnamon challenge, it made my mouth so dry it made the Gobi desert jealous,” senior Aaron Cosman said. “When I spat out the cinnamon, my eyes ran into the dust, and it felt like someone had just pepper sprayed me.” The pain caused by the cinnamon challenge, is not always temporary. In an article by Reuters, writer Genevra Pittman reported that the cinnamon challenge can cause permanent tissue changes to the lungs. So why would any sane person ever attempt the cinnamon challenge? “The reason I did the challenge was just so I could tell people, ‘I completed the cinnamon challenge,’” senior and cinnamon challenge completer Jimmy Boylan said. Another challenge that involves a lack of water is the saltine challenge. The goal is to eat six saltine crackers in under a minute without drinking water. Although the task sounds easy at first, once the crackers are in the mouth, that idea quickly vanishes. Some people like to eat each saltine one at a time, while others opt to put all of them in at the same time. This challenge has been around longer than the cinnamon challenge. In 1996, the Associated Press had Peyton Manning do the challenge to display his competitive nature. He failed on his first attempt, but succeeded in his second. On the other side of the spectrum is the gallon challenge, where someone must drink a gallon of milk in 60 minutes. “I had a pint left before I couldn’t take it anymore,” Boylan recalled on his experience with the gallon challenge. “The aftermath of doing that challenge wasn’t pretty. I won’t be doing that again,” Boylan said.