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The Latest Parent Panic Is Viral Videos of Teens Eating Food, Wrappers and All

Despite local news hand-wringing, parents probably don’t need to be worried about the latest viral hoax

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Now that Tide Pod panic and Momo fearmongering have died down, parents around the world have a new viral craze to keep them up at night: the “shell on challenge,” wherein teens are biting into foods without removing their wrappers, and sharing photos of their edible conquests on Snapchat. Is this what kids do instead of drugs now?

Some of these videos show kids chomping on bananas without removing the peel — an odd, but ultimately harmless fruit eating strategy — while other clips feature teens gnawing through the packaging on cereal boxes and bags of baby carrots. In the last week, a bunch of local newspapers and TV news programs have covered the stunt like it’s an epidemic that’s sweeping the nation, even though there’s very little evidence to suggest that the shell on challenge is actually much of a trend at all, let alone something parents need to worry about.

Since the meme was born on Snapchat, where videos disappear, it’s hard to gauge just how many kids are participating in the shell on challenge. But the fact that only a small number of videos of these challenges have appeared on YouTube and other social platforms suggests that this stunt — like a ninth grader with only 60 followers — isn’t even that popular. Matt Schimkowitz, the editor of Know Your Meme, tells the Daily Beast, “Either it’s truly only on Snapchat — making it basically the first and only Snapchat trend to not bleed over to Instagram or YouTube — or it’s not actually a thing, which is my hunch.”

Many of the reports about the shell on challenge also fail to note that the videos that have surfaced online — like the banana and Slim Jim clips above — show the kids biting, but not swallowing the outer shells, an act that really isn’t that interesting or funny at all. And while local news stations have interviewed a number of doctors about the subject, so far there have been no reports of kids getting sick from this dumb game.

If the craze follows a similar trajectory to Tide Pod challenge, people will still be making jokes (like this tweet) for months now that this latest viral boogeyman is starting to get some national media attention. But as far as 2019 food memes go, the shell on challenge can’t hold a candle to the spectacularly weird phenomenons of pineapple pulling and baby cheese throwing.

‘Shell on Challenge’: The Viral Hoax Fooling Local News Into Thinking Teens Are Eating Plastic for Fun [Daily Beast]