5-minute listening: Too hot to handle? Death of teen sparks discussion on danger of spicy food challenges – YP

1. What recent event sparked renewed attention to the risk of spicy food challenges?

A. the death of Harris Wolobah

B. the Guinness World Records chilli challenge

C. the launch of the “One Chip Challenge”

D. the popularity of YouTube’s Hot Ones series

2. What does the phrase “similar dares” in the podcast refer to?

A. a chilli company that challenges customers to eat a bag of its chillies in the shortest time possible

B. a restaurant that invites customers to eat its spicy food

C. making videos of yourself eating tortilla chips

D. none of the above

3. Which word has a similar meaning to “phenomenon” in the podcast?

A. emergency

B. outcome

C. occurrence

D. miracle

4. Complete the following sentence using information from the podcast.

According to Elisa Trucco,
(i) _____ are more vulnerable to products created and marketed solely for spicy food challenges compared to other age groups since they are more exposed to (ii) _____.

5. According to the podcast, what are the possible reasons that people take part in spicy food challenges and share them online?
(1) to gain internet fame and recognition
(2) to feel the thrill of risk-taking
(3) to feel a sense of in-group belonging
(4) to experience an internal rush of competition

A. (1), (2) and (3) only

B. (1), (3) and (4) only

C. (1), (2) and (4) only

D. all of the above

6. According to the podcast, which restaurant offers the “Blazin’ Challenge”?

A. Buffalo Wild Wings

B. Paqui’s restaurant chain

C. Wing King

D. Hot Challenge restaurant

7. What sort of challenge can patrons attempt at Buffalo Wild Wings and Wing King?

A. consume 10 Carolina Reaper chillies in record time

B. eat a certain amount of wings doused in extra hot sauce in a limited time without drinking or eating other food

C. finish a spicy chip without drinking or eating other food

D. information not given

8. Which chilli pepper is officially recognised by the Guinness World Records as the hottest in the world?

A. jalapeño

B. habanero

C. ghost pepper

D. Carolina Reaper

9. Which word has the same meaning as “allege” in the podcast?

A. claim

B. attack

C. complain

D. frame

10. Which of the following statements are not true about the spicy food challenges?
(1) They are primarily driven by health experts’ endorsements.
(2) Only people who are trained to eat extremely spicy food take part in these challenges.
(3) They have gained popularity because of the rise of social media.

A. (1) and (2) only

B. (1) and (3) only

C. (2) and (3) only

D. all of the above

11. What does the podcast suggest that brands and manufacturers do when promoting spicy food challenges?

A. eliminate warning labels

B. educate pupils and teachers

C. ban people under 18 from attempting the challenges

D. information not given

12. Arrange the following events in chronological order from 1st to 4th.

(a) A 14-year-old American teenager died. ___

(b) Spicy food challenges became popular. ___

(c) A Californian man ate 10 Carolina Reaper chillies. ___

(d) Paqui asked retailers to stop selling one of its spicy products. ___

The product instructs participants to eat the chip and see how long they can go without having other food and water. Photo: AP


1. A
2. A
3. C
4. (i) teens/teenagers; (ii) social media
5. D
6. A
7. B
8. D
9. A
10. A
11. D
12. 1st (b); 2nd (c); 3rd (a); 4th (d)


Adapted from Tribune News Service

Voice 1: Spicy food challenges are under scrutiny as the stakes get higher and people chase likes online. Last month, a tortilla chip maker decided to pull its extremely spicy product, sold as a “One Chip Challenge”, from store shelves following the death of 14-year-old American teenager Harris Wolobah. This has drawn renewed attention to the risks of similar dares marketed by brands and spread online.

Voice 2: Spicy food challenges have been around for years. From local chilli pepper eating contests to restaurant walls of fame for those who finish extra hot dishes, people around the world have been daring each other to eat especially fiery foods. Some experts explain this trend by pointing to the internal rush of competition and risk-taking.

Voice 1: But extremely spicy products created and marketed solely for the challenges – and possible internet fame – is a more recent phenomenon, and teens are particularly exposed to them because of social media, according to Elisa Trucco, an associate professor of psychology at Florida International University.

Voice 2: Alexander DePaoli, an associate professor of marketing at Northeastern University in Boston, added that people may put themselves through discomfort and share it online for a sense of in-group belonging, similar to offline challenges such as a game of truth or dare. A YouTube series called “Hot Ones”, for example, rose to internet fame several years ago with videos of celebrities’ reactions to eating spicy wings.

Voice 1: Meanwhile, restaurants across the United States continue to offer in-person challenges – from chain restaurant Buffalo Wild Wings’ “Blazin’ Challenge” to the “Hell Challenge” of Wing King in Las Vegas. In both challenges, patrons over 18 can attempt to eat a certain amount of wings doused in extra hot sauce in a limited time without drinking or eating other food.

Voice 2: Chilli pepper eating contests are also regularly hosted around the world. Last year, a Californian man ate 10 Carolina Reaper chillies, which Guinness World Records has named the hottest in the world, in a record time of 33.15 seconds. In most cases, people will choose to participate in challenges that they are trained for or do not consider to be truly dangerous. But DePaoli notes that a line is crossed when someone gets hurt. While the autopsy results for Harris Wolobah are still pending, the teen’s family allege that the One Chip Challenge is responsible for his death.

Voice 1: The product, manufactured by Paqui, instructs participants to eat the chip and see how long they can go without consuming other food and water. Sales of the chip seem largely driven by people posting videos on social media of them or their friends taking the challenge. They show people, including teens and children, eating the chips and then reacting to the heat. Some videos show people gagging, coughing and begging for water.

Voice 2: Since Wolobah’s death, Paqui has asked retailers to stop selling the product, and some health experts have pointed to the potential dangers of eating such spicy products under certain circumstances, depending on the amount of capsaicin they contain. Capsaicin is the component that gives chilli peppers their heat. Despite warnings or labels specifying adult use only, the products can still get into the hands of young people who might not understand the risks.

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