Culture

Junk Explained: What Is The Jalapeño Challenge And Why Is It Sending People To The Hospital?

Jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese and Takis is currently TikTok's favourite snack.

Jalapeño hospital tiktok cream cheese

Every few months, a new food craze sweeps over TikTok and takes the internet by storm.

This year alone we’ve seen Dalgona whipped coffee take over the app, soon followed by fluffy cloud bread, and then everyone’s strange obsession with the humble glizzy aka hotdog.

But TikTok’s latest food trend, aptly named the Jalapeño Challenge, has had an impact like nothing before it. Now when you scroll on your For You Page, it’s practically impossible to not see at least one person chomping down on a jalapeño stuffed with cream cheese and Takis — a rolled tortilla chip coated in chilli and lime flavouring.

However in recent weeks, a number people have begun reporting that the snack has actually sent them to the hospital. So, we’ve decided to find out if there’s actually any truth to the claim.

What Is The Jalapeño Challenge And How Did It Start?

Before we can talk about the physical impacts an excess consumption of jalapeños can have, we need to first understand how this craze even started.

Built off the back of the keto diet — a low-carb, high-fat diet that’s known best for its lack of bread and love for cheese — the official Jalapeño Challenge has been swirling around on TikTok over the last month or so.

On August 8, Gordon Ramsay reviewed @myhealthydish‘s TikTok that featured a “low-carb bell pepper sandwich” that used capsicums in place of, you guessed it, bread.

Filled with cream cheese, Everything But The Bagel seasoning, spinach and sliced turkey, the celebrity chef called the creation an “idiot sandwich” during his viral #RamsayReacts series.

From here, it’s hard to tell who exactly upped the ante and spice level. One source could be @okay.jennnn, who got extremely popular on the app when she “relapsed” on spicy chips while her husband was away.

Rekindling her love for Doritos Dinamita — a rolled tortilla chip covered in chilli and lime flavouring that’s quite similar to Takis — Jen recounted that she was once put into the hospital for eating too many, which is why her husband stopped allowing her to purchase them. But after consuming one when her husband was away for work, she couldn’t stop.

Then on August 4, Jen decided to shove some Dinamitas into a jalapeño without any cream cheese. Just straight chips and jalapeño in their pure dry, crunchy glory.

It’s unclear who then combined the two snacks together, but soon the jalapeño, cream cheese and Taki creation was born. Some squeeze some lime on top for some extra flavour, others shake some Everything But The Bagel seasoning inside the pepper, but the main elements stay pretty much the same.

All you have to do is cut the top off the jalapeño, remove the seeds, stuff the pepper with cream cheese, insert about three Takis inside, and then eat. The chip doesn’t necessarily have to be Takis either. Any other spicy chip will suffice, like Hot Cheetos, but the rolled tortilla-style chip with lime flavouring does work best.

Personally, I’ve tried the jalapeño creation and it’s great. The jalapeño gives the crunch, the cream cheese makes it creamy and the Takis make it spicy. In fact, heaps of people have fallen in love with the snack — perhaps too much though, with some consuming an excess of five stuffed peppers a day. Over a number of days. Over a number of weeks.

However, some have taken their love for the snack a little too far. The jalapeño craze has now gotten to the point where people are starting to claim they’ve wound up in hospital as a direct result of the spicy snack.

So, Can Too Many Jalapeños Send You To Hospital?

As the trend blew up, people actually started to go out of their way to “test” what the body’s jalapeño limit was before a hospital visit was necessary.

TikTok user Jessica Jarpe uploaded a video on September 17 and claimed that 36 jalapeños was the golden number.

Jarpe duetted her original video and shared a photo of her in a surgical gown as a way to “prove” that she was actually at the hospital because of the stuffed pepper. But the reality is there’s really no way to prove whether she went to hospital as a direct result of the snack.

However, another woman (@jailzabeth0) claimed that she did end up in hospital as a direct result of consuming the jalapeño snack — eating the spicy treat two to three times a night, for two weeks straight to be specific.

In her original video, Jalizabeth urged people to not consume the treat in fear that they too would end up in hospital. However, in her follow-up “story time” videos, Jalizabeth explained the actual events that led to her hospital visit.

After adding some discarded jalapeño seeds to another snack she was eating, Jalizabeth woke up six hours later with major stomach pain. Fainting from the pain, bloated and with a fever of 40°C, her boyfriend took her to the hospital but even with a CAT scan, sonogram and x-ray, the doctor’s couldn’t find anything wrong.

Following a stay in the hospital overnight, Jalizabeth’s doctors were finally able to conclude that she actually had a gall bladder infection which was most likely caused by greasy foods, not spicy ones.

Other people have sworn that an excess number of jalapeños has caused stomach ulcers and appendicitis for them, but Sydney GP Dr Brad McKay doesn’t think that it’s very likely.

“It’s highly unlikely for you to end up in hospital after having spicy food,” Dr McKay told Junkee. “But you can potentially cause a chemical burn to your throat and oesophagus if you’re consuming extremely hot/spicy foods.”

While jalapeños, and other spicy foods, aren’t commonly known to cause stomach ulcers, Dr McKay believes that it could be medically possible if people are consuming excessive amounts — like the 36 that Jessica Jarpe did.

“Spicy food isn’t known to cause stomach ulcers under normal circumstances, but it’s medically plausible if you’re overdosing on 36 jalapeños,” Dr McKay concluded. “There’s no particular number of jalapeños you can eat safely, but 36 sounds like a lot. It all depends on the size and level of heat on the Scoville Scale.”

So yeah, eating a couple of cream cheese and Taki-stuffed jalapeños probably isn’t going to send you to the hospital, but just try not to eat 36 in one sitting to be safe.