The Paqui one-chip challenge sounds easy enough. You stick a large, Dorito-like chip in your mouth. Chew. Swallow. Carry on with life.
That’s what it would be like if this were a Cool Ranch Dorito. But this is no such thing, which is probably why YouTube has plenty of opportunities to watch people do this.
Because instead of carrying on with your life, you’ll gasp for air, wondering what the point of it all is, questioning if it’s actually coming to an end soon.
A few months ago, a colleague at my day job at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church suggested we do a video of our staff trying these chips. “Sure,” we said. “I’m game.” Each of us nodded.
Months later, after paying $5 per chip, the time came. So it wasn’t completely irrelevant, we decided to promote Advent events going on at the church. You know, eat the chip, say the announcement. Simple.
It wasn’t all that simple once I started looking at the red, coffin-shaped box each individually wrapped chip rests in. Warnings were scribbled ominously about the "deadly tortilla chip."
There were more words inside warning anyone stupid enough to have gotten this far. While it seemed cheesy at first, I started to feel a little bit nervous.
Tearing open the foil wrapping, I could barely smell something like a spicy dirt. I had never seen a piece of anything so covered in "seasoning." More sat in a corner in the bottom of the little bag.
I would normally eat such a chip in a couple of bites. But assuming we were all doing this like we would a tequila shot, I tried shoving the thing in my mouth. (It still took two quick bites.)
Before experiencing any kind of heat, I realized I was tasting the worst flavor that had ever been in my mouth.
I love spicy food. I love it as any normal person would, for the flavors it can provide to a dish.
This is not that. This is some heinous powder created by someone wanting to bring despair to foolish people willing to pay for it.
Imagine having dry dirt in your mouth. After you’ve run a marathon. And you haven’t had any water. No, imagine this dirt you’ve thrown in your mouth after a marathon is from your neighborhood dog park. That may be closer to what this tastes like.
Once I finally got the chip down, relieved that I didn’t vomit from the flavor alone, the heat slowly came in. And just kept coming. And it somehow kept getting hotter.
I immediately thought to myself that everyone participating in this should’ve signed a waiver. My eyes started to run. My ears burned. My sinuses drained. Then I wasn’t sure if I had sinuses anymore.
We guzzled water, tea and milk (none for me; that’s gross) and scarfed down ice cream.
I don’t normally eat ice cream; my stomach’s not a fan. But it’s the only thing to go in my mouth that would allow any kind of comfort. As soon as the ice cream melted, though, the pain was back.
We got through our announcements fine enough. You can’t really understand us — I was nearly blacking out at the end and a pastor cursed on video. So, overall, success.
Afterward, people returned to their offices with cramping stomachs.
I felt as if I was going to spend the rest of the workday lying on the couch in my office. I felt nauseated from all the ice cream. My neck was itching. (I later got these little red bumps on my neck for two days.) When I walked around the office, I couldn’t stand up straight. The red in my face wouldn’t leave my cheeks. I debated giving in and throwing up, but I was worried I would just relive it.
But I’ll tell you, when you’ve had something so gross in your mouth, followed by something that normally doesn’t make you feel any better, you give in.
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And there’s some good news: Experiencing it in reverse wasn't as bad as I'd feared. My ears burned a bit, but it wasn’t that spicy. The next day, everyone else who didn’t vomit after swallowing that absurdity was in pain in much worse places.
Is watching people eat this chip and succumb to its dark powers funny? Yes.
Do I recommend you try it for yourself? I do.
It will make me feel so much better about the stupid decision I made about putting that damn thing in my mouth.