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F.D.A. Warning on NyQuil Chicken Alerts Many to Existence of NyQuil Chicken

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A truism of the web, central to the work of researchers who study the spread of dangerous trends and misinformation, holds that attempting to discourage bad behavior can, if clumsily handled, reinforce the bad behavior by amplifying it to individuals who would have otherwise never considered it.

Which leads us to the NyQuil chicken.

In recent weeks, some people on TikTok, Twitter and other sites discovered years-old videos and pictures of individuals pouring blue-green NyQuil, a nighttime cold medicine, over chicken breasts in a pan or pot. It was, to be clear, a dangerous concept that nobody should do — it could lead on to consuming unsafe levels of the product, and over-the-counter medicines must be used only as directed.

But it surely was not clear if people were actually trying it themselves in significant numbers; most individuals commenting were expressing horror on the concept or making jokes about it. There have been no reports of hospitalizations or deaths related to NyQuil chicken, a tongue-in-cheek recipe that first surfaced within the notorious 4chan forum in 2017 and in addition received a spike of attention in January.

Still, the brand new flurry of interest in recent weeks caught the eye of the Food and Drug Administration, which issued a straight-faced notice on Sept. 15 advising against participating in what it called “a recent social media video challenge.”

“The challenge sounds silly and unappetizing — and it’s,” the agency warned. “But it surely may be very unsafe.”

It laid out the science behind why it was dangerous, concluding that “someone could take a dangerously high amount of the cough and cold medicine without even realizing it.”

The F.D.A.’s alert directly drew renewed attention to the harmful dish. The subsequent day, just a few TV stations reported on the F.D.A.’s advisory, repeating the assertion that a dangerous trend was playing out. Days later, among the nation’s biggest media organizations followed.

And on Tuesday, it was a trending topic on Twitter, with response videos spreading on TikTok and links to news articles aplenty on Facebook.

The entire affair left NyQuil, which is produced by Procter & Gamble, on the defensive. Responding to people on Twitter who gave the impression to be treating the concept, also called sleepy chicken, as a joke, the corporate’s Twitter account urged people to not try the recipe, declaring, “We don’t endorse inappropriate use of our product.”

In accordance with Know Your Meme, a web site that chronicles the origins of web phenomena, the primary known reference to NyQuil chicken got here when someone documented their apparent cooking experience in 2017 on 4chan, an often noxious message board where trolling was common and few things were to be taken too seriously. A couple of others on YouTube and TikTok recorded videos of the stunt in the next years.

Janet Yang, a professor of communication on the University at Buffalo, first heard about NyQuil chicken after being contacted by The Latest York Times on Wednesday. She said the amount of coverage could inadvertently make more people think they need to listen to the problem and divert attention from more immediate health threats, comparable to Covid-19 and monkeypox.

“Once it has that certain degree of volume or attention, mainly you’re making this more an actual thing than it truly is,” Professor Yang said.

The F.D.A. alert was unlikely to achieve adolescents considering this behavior and was “clearly” written more as a warning to folks, said Corey Hannah Basch, a professor of public health at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J.

“The F.D.A. took a certain step to lift awareness, but has it gone too far to be helpful at this point?” Professor Basch said. “Almost definitely since it’s just brought many individuals to take into consideration something they weren’t excited about before.”

It was unclear what number of more people had tried it due to recent attention. On Twitter, most of the photographs being shared in recent days were taken from the small variety of videos recorded years ago. On TikTok, searches for #nyquilchicken, before the app limited access to that content, revealed mostly people newly reacting to the identical years-old videos.

The F.D.A. didn’t immediately reply to questions on what prompted the warning or whether it had received reports of individuals falling unwell from the practice.

On among the hottest response videos, TikTok appended a warning: “Participating on this activity could lead to you or others getting hurt.”

“Content that promotes dangerous behavior has no place on TikTok,” a TikTok representative said in an email. “This shouldn’t be trending on our platform, but we are going to remove content if found and strongly discourage anyone from engaging in behavior which may be harmful to themselves or others.”

In a grim precedent, some people really did eat laundry detergent packets in 2018 after an identical “challenge” based on Tide pods took off. And the F.D.A. cited a “Benadryl challenge” from 2020 that reportedly caused at the least one teenager’s death.

But no, despite news reports every 12 months, people aren’t putting razor blades or THC in Halloween candy.

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