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Parents want "One Chip Challenge" banned after death of Worcester teen Harris Wolobah

Worcester teen dies after "One Chip Challenge"
Worcester teen dies after "One Chip Challenge" 03:01

Updated September 7, 2023: Paqui has pulled its "One Chip Challenge" from store shelves. 

WORCESTER - A Worcester family says 14-year-old Harris Wolobah died hours after taking part in the "One Chip Challenge."

The Wolobah family has been so devastated, they haven't been able to talk about it publicly, until now. They desperately want to get a warning out about a spicy tortilla chip they say he ate hours before he died last week.   

"I hope, I pray to God that no parents will go through what I'm going through. I don't want to see anybody hurting the way I'm hurting." Harris's mother Lois Wolobah told WBZ-TV. "I miss my son so much. I miss him so much."

Harris Wolobah
Fourteen-year-old Harris Wolobah died hours after the "One Chip Challenge" his family said.  CBS Boston


She said she picked him up from Doherty High School in Worcester Friday after a call from the nurse's office saying he had fainted after eating the chip a friend gave him. "When I went there, he was laying down and I said, 'what was the chip you ate?' And this is what he showed me," said his mother, holding up her phone with an image of the Paqui brand 2023 One Chip Challenge. 

It comes in a box with a single wrapped chip, labeled "Carolina Reaper" and "Naga Viper Pepper." His mother says he later passed out again at home, went to the emergency room, and died.

"No pre-existing condition," said his father, Amos Wolobah. "Not to my knowledge."

The family is waiting for a cause of death from the Massachusetts Medical Examiner's Office pending an autopsy. A spokesperson told WBZ Wednesday they don't expect to have a finalized cause "for several weeks."

But the Wolobahs are convinced it was the chip that made their son sick. They say he was a healthy basketball player with no known allergies.

One Chip Challenge
Paqui brand 2023 One Chip Challenge CBS Boston


The chip is the subject of a social media challenge the company appears to embrace in its promotional videos. On the back of the package there's a warning label. "Keep out of reach of children," it says, among other things. WBZ found the chips in a store about 10 minutes from Wolobah's school.

According to the National Capital Poison Center, it "contains capsaicin...consumption typically causes mouth and throat pain but can also result in more serious health problems including heart attack and esophageal damage."


Harris Wolobah's family is now begging for the chips to be taken off store shelves. "We've been having sleepless nights," said his father. "He's not going to come back."

WBZ reached out to the company Paqui and has not received a response.

The community has planned a basketball fundraiser at St. Bernard's church in Worcester Saturday to help pay for funeral expenses. 

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