As part of our ongoing Dangerous Food Dare series (see the cinnamon challenge and soy sauce), comes the humorously named, but equally hazardous Chubby Bunny Dare.
THE CHUBBY BUNNY KILLS
Most often played in groups as a game, and particularly popular at campouts, the dare is straightforward: whomever can fill his or her mouth with the most marshmallows (no swallowing or chewing allowed) and repeatedly say the words “chubby bunny” wins. Though this dare, like many food dares, sounds innocent enough, it poses a serious risk of choking or asphyxiation.
In fact, there are two recorded deaths caused by this sweet-toothed challenge: Catherine “Casey” Fish, a 12-year old from Chicago, suffocated on just four marshmallows in 1999 and 32-year-old Janet Rudd died at a fair while taking the challenge in London, Ontario in 2006.
Possibly the most alarming fact about Casey’s story is that it happened at an annual fair put on by her elementary school. Planned as part of the day’s activities, the Chubby Bunny was to be a supervised challenge but Casey and her friends started practicing by playing the game ten minutes before the challenge was scheduled to start. At that time, the teacher had briefly stepped out of the room to speak with the custodian. Casey died in the hospital three hours later.
“Game” strategies include stuffing the marshmallows into every spare space in the mouth (between the teeth and gums, under the tongue, etc.) and even the throat. And it’s not just teenagers who are participating — adults do it too, and worst of all, small children. In the case of children, the dare is particularly dangerous because they are often giggling incessantly, as they cram the confections into their mouth, increasing the chance of one being sucked back into their throat and obstructing their windpipe.
WHY THE CHUBBY BUNNY DARE IS DANGEROUS
A falsely held widespread belief is that the marshmallows used during the Chubby Bunny Dare will melt or emulsify in the participant’s mouth, creating a gloppy mass. The truth is, the temperature of the mouth is insufficient to melt marshmallows right away.
In actuality, marshmallows retain their basic form, without chewing, for about 15 minutes until they have fully dissolved to nothing. Any fluid that does emerge is thin and runny, not gloppy or gluey.
The real reason marshmallows present such a risk comes from their sheer size, bulky shape, and consistency. Caught up in the challenge and with the added peer pressure of being egged on, participants in this challenge will often stuff more marshmallows into their mouths than they can actually handle, eventually pushing them into their throat. In addition, they are very difficult to dislodge with either the Heimlich maneuver or with medical instruments. So even a supervised challenge does not mean you are safe.
As with other food dares we’ve written about, YouTube is host to a proliferation of videos showing people of all ages doing this one, too. When it comes to food dares, awareness is the key to survival. Do not make the assumption that your child or teenager is unaware of the Chubby Bunny, and therefore it can’t affect them. Kids share these videos amongst themselves and get a good laugh, triggering them to want to try them. And no child is immune. Even those who are normally averse to high-risk behaviors seem attracted to these food dares because they mistakenly think they are just harmless fun.
Don’t assume your child knows better, or that they are too smart to accept the challenge. Take the time to talk with them about it. And set a good example for everyone by not doing it yourself. The Chubby Bunny may sound cute, but it is simply not worth the risk.