Cinnamon Challenge Experiences a Viral Spike, But Is It Dangerous?

It’s an utter mystery, what makes viral searches and meme-related activity like the cinnamon challenge ebb and spike in searches and posts and videos on the internet- but despite a mention on Tosh.0 a long-ass time ago, the cinnamon challenge seems to be having a big moment right now on the internet.

Perhaps the videos- which usually involve a person choking, spluttering or spitting cinnamon all over the place- have filled the void in which “Shit People Says” videos used to live. But it seems they’re popping up all over the place this week, and meme-tracking site KnowYourMeme indicates a massive spike in interest in the cinnamon challenge in recent days.

So of course, people are wondering about the possible effects of the cinnamon challenge- in which the subject attempts to swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon without incident in a set time period- on one’s health. Which, while it sounds innocuous also should make you remember what serious business Atomic Fireballs are. Mother Nature Network even made the front page of Fark (another indicator of a meme becoming increasingly viral) with a post contemplating whether ingesting a tablespoon of cinnamon could theoretically be deadly.

To say the cinnamon challenge could kill you seems a bit of a stretch- and the site’s contention that it’s a “matter of time” before some “unsuspecting teen” succumbs to acute cinnamon toxicity even further strains the bounds of credulity- but MNN does point to some facts about the science of excess cinnamon consumption:

In many cases, the coughing is so severe that the challengee has difficulty catching his breath. For anyone suffering from asthma or COPD, this can be very serious. And in fact, ground cinnamon can lead to a bronchial constriction — according to the University of Michigan Health System — and that can be life threatening… Cinnamon also contains as essential oil called cinnamal, which can act as an allergen in a fair amount of people. Those who are allergic to cinnamon can suffer from contact dermatitis — and according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, cinnamon can also cause a severe allergic reaction that can lead to anaphylactic shock.

Below is one example- have you yet attempted the cinnamon challenge?