TikTok's interest in 'NyQuil chicken' increased 1,400% following the FDA's warning about the dangerous trend

TikTok searches for NyQuil Chicken reportedly increased 1,400 times after the FDA warned about the "social media video challenge." Getty Images
The FDA released a statement on Sept. 15 urging people to stop cooking their chicken in NyQuil.
The FDA warning about the bizarre recipe may have unknowingly popularized the trend.
In TikTok data provided to BuzzFeed News, searches for the alert increased by 1,400%.
The FDA issued a statement on Sept. 15 imploring people to stop cooking chicken in NyQuil, but the warning may have inadvertently sparked interest -- and a 1,400% surge in searches -- in the odd TikTok trend to have.
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Originally dating back to 2017 and troll-loving message board 4chan, NyQuil Chicken has been making the rounds again on TikTok and Twitter for the past few weeks.
In its warning, the FDA mentioned a "social media video challenge" and warned of the risks of cooking chicken in cough medicine. There are no known hospitalizations or deaths from the prescription. However, consuming the #sleepychick could lead to liver damage and muscle breakdown — even inhaling the vapor could cause nausea, the FDA warned.
TikTok has removed videos showing users pouring NyQuil over chicken breasts, and searching the term currently generates a resource page on mumbo-jumbo and dangerous challenges. In some of its remaining videos, mostly criticizing #sleepychicken, TikTok has added a warning that reads, "Participating in this activity could result in you or others being injured."
But government warnings may have thrown a brighter spotlight on the otherwise obscure joke. According to data TikTok sent to BuzzFeed News, on Sept. 14, the day before the FDA's warning, the app registered five searches for NyQuil Chicken; on September 21, it was 7,000 - an increase of 1,400%.
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"Once it gets that level of volume or attention, you basically make it more of a real thing than it really is," Janet Yang, a communications professor at the University of Buffalo, told the New York Times. Similarly, concerns over a TikTok "hit a teacher" challenge in 2021 sparked nationwide panic over a trend that was never real.
However, it's worth noting that users typically first discover videos via the app's FYP - not via search - and media coverage naturally tends to generate related searches. And while the majority of the TikToks currently on the app disproportionately feature people making fun of NyQuil chicken, the platform has reportedly removed dangerous videos, making it difficult to determine how many videos were actually made .
TikTok didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
While ignorance of digital platforms like TikTok has historically led to unnecessary panic, concerns about dangerous digital “challenges,” especially those related to substance use, are not unfounded. Digital trends like the 2012 Cinnamon Challenge, the 2018 Tide Pod Challenge, and the 2020 Benadryl Challenge ended in deaths or hospitalizations.
Read the original article on Insider

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