“NyQuil chicken” has been all over the internet this week. On one hand, this is good because we all need more absurdity in the news to balance out its typical levels of pure horror. On the other, it sucks because now the FDA has decided to turn what was just a dumb joke about a culinary monstrosity and help make it into an actual thing by warning against it.
To back up a bit, Nyquil chicken is exactly what it sounds like: A meme about cooking chicken in Nyquil. It was not something people were actually starting to eat all the time, and it wasn’t on the mainstream radar. That is, until the FDA released a warning last week that referenced the practice as being at the center of a dangerous “recent social media challenge.”
As Buzzfeed News’ Kelsey Weekman writes in an article about all of this, the FDA’s write-up led to mainstream news coverage and helped get “NyQuil chicken” trending on Twitter. Before this, though, it was an old gag that “has been internet folklore for years,” stemming from 4chan and eventually making its way to Reddit and a handful of “now-deleted TikToks from earlier this month in which people stitched themselves reacting with horror to those earlier viral videos, but did not make the chicken themselves.”
It wasn’t until the FDA warning and subsequent coverage that the fake trend became something people are actually searching social media for en masse. “There have been no reported deaths or illnesses from NyQuil chicken so far,” Weekman writes. “But a lot more people now know about it.”
There are shades of Tide Pod-eating, which also went from a thing to joke about to an actual trend, in all of this. To be fair, the internet—and TikTok challenges in particular—can be enormously stupid. But, it seems like a better idea to wait until the kids are actually out there stuffing their faces with sickly green chicken to ring the alarm bells.
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