FDA’s ‘NyQuil chicken’ warning may have sparked cough medicine cooking craze

“The challenge sounds silly and unappetizing — and it is,” the FDA stated. “But it could also be very unsafe. Boiling a medication can make it much more concentrated and change its properties in other ways,”

While lighthearted in tone, the FDA’s message appears to have only amplified general awareness of an otherwise obscure trend that began as an Internet message board joke.

The origins of “NyQuil chicken” stem from a 2017 video posted to the online forum 4chan. The footage showed chicken breasts cooking in blue-green NyQuil, and images from the post would later make the rounds on Reddit and Twitter before disappearing into digital obscurity. Other than a brief spike in attention in January and an occasional video from Youtube and TikTok creators in the years since, the video seems to have remained dormant and out of mind for most social media users in the years since its conception.

This all changed after the FDA’s warning, which did not cite the impetus behind its seemingly out-of-nowhere health and safety alert. The agency did not respond to the New York Times’ questions about what prompted its message or if people had gotten sick from eating NyQuil chicken recently.

The FDA’s warning has, however, pushed the dish back into the minds and social media feeds of an increasing number of people who otherwise likely would have remained blissfully unaware of its existence. “NyQuil chicken” trended on Twitter on Tuesday and TikTok creators quickly began making reaction videos to the dish, though the platform has since begun redirecting searches for “Nyquil chicken” to a page alerting users to potentially dangerous “challenges” in their feeds. NyQuil has even issued a statement on Twitter in response to a tweet claiming that Benadryl “pairs great with NyQuil chicken.”

“Consumer safety is our number one priority, and we don’t endorse inappropriate use of our product,” NyQuil wrote. “NyQuil is an [over-the-counter] medication that treats nighttime symptoms of the common cold & flu.”

The FDA last issued a warning about a supposedly viral challenge involving an over-the-counter cold medicine when it warned in 2020 that the “Benadryl challenge” caused at least one death.

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