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The Cinnamon Challenge is a popular dare game that involves attempting to swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon without vomiting or inhaling the powder. Since the early 2000s, the game has become well known for its extreme difficulty and thousands of videos with people attempting the challenge have been uploaded onto YouTube.
While the challenge became a viral phenomenon on YouTube, its origin precedes the history of the video-sharing community. The earliest known attempt at the game can be traced back to The Cinnamon Challenge 2001, which was hosted by Michael Buffington and played by Erik Goodlad. The result was documented and posted as a blog article on Buffington’s blog. The story was picked up by Jason Kottke on December 22nd, 2001.
The earliest YouTube version was uploaded on April 2nd, 2006 in a video titled “Pipe Attempts the Cinnamon Challenge.” Throughout the rest of 2006, several videos depicting similar attempts were posted on the site.
Discussions and Q&A threads regarding the subject have been commonly seen on Yahoo Answers and the Wikipedia article on “Cinnamon” contains a subsection on the phenomenon. There are several Facebook fan pages, including the promotional page for CinnamonChallenge.com which has over 5,500 “likes”. The Urban Dictionary has a definition entry for the Cinnamon Challenge created on May 21st, 2008.
The phenomenon saw its largest resurgent yet in late 2011 when Anna Diaz recorded a video of herself attempting the challenge, which was re-uploaded via YouTube on December 14th, 2011. The video received over 3.9 million views in the first two months of upload and was covered by numerous Internet culture blogs and imitated by other YouTubers in the following weeks.
On January 31st, 2012, The New Haven Register reported that Clinton Avenue School’s principal Carmen Ana Rodriguez was put on leave after she failed to stop or reprimand her students taking the challenge during lunch hours. However, the controversy surrounding the “Cinnamon Challenge” only fueled the online interest and it was reported by several news programs as the newest teen fad that should be advised against by the parents.
Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, Pottstown School District declared a ban on students wearing “open top boots” on the grounds that they can be used to smuggle various contrabands, including cinnamon for consumption. According to the local newspaper The Mercury, the school official responded that the decision came in late January 2012, after three confirmed incidents involving the challenge were reported in recent weeks.
Health Risks Study
On April 22nd, 2013, the results of a study by University of Miami professor Dr. Steven Lipshultz were published in the monthly medical journal Pediatrics, which investigated various health risks associated with the cinnamon challenge. The report revealed that as cinnamon challenge videos increased in popularity on YouTube, calls to poison control centers and emergency room visits saw a significant increase in frequency as well. In 2011, the US American Association of Poison Control Centers received only 51 cinnamon challenge-related calls, while in 2012, the number jumped to 178 calls with 30 incidents requiring medical attention. In experiments with rats, Lipshultz found that the substance cellulose contained within cinnamon powder can induce pulmonary fibrosis, a scarring of the lungs which causes symptoms similar to emphysema. On the day of its publication, the findings were reported on by several news sites, including the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The Daily Dot and NBC.
Search queries peaking in October 2007, which may correspond with the YouTube video that has accumulated the most views as of April 2011 (over 1 million). It was uploaded on November 20th, 2007.
New Havens Register – New Haven principal on leave after witnessing students taking Cinnamon Challenge
The Daily Dot – The Cinnamon Challenge may cause pulmonary fibrosis