There are so many great recipes for chicken. You can fry it. Braise it. Pan-sear it. You should not, however, cook it in a mixture of acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and doxylamine, as a now-deleted spree of TikTok NyQuil chicken videos suggest.
While most of the TikToks showing how to make “sleepy chicken” (named for the NyQuil it is seemingly cooked in) have been taken down, the FDA went as far as to issue an updated warning on 9/15: “Boiling a medication can make it much more concentrated and change its properties in other ways. Even if you don’t eat the chicken, inhaling the medication’s vapors while cooking could cause high levels of the drugs to enter your body. It could also hurt your lungs.”
According to meme-tracking website Know Your Meme, the challenge is nothing new. The website states that the rank-looking chicken first showed up on the message board 4Chan in 2017. In 2020, the chicken unfortunately seemed to migrate to TikTok, where users cooked the syrup-drenched chicken in (mostly) comedic videos.
Apart from the truly petrifying color of the chicken, it should go without saying that cooking anything in cold and flu medicine is a very poor idea. It’s unclear whether anyone has actually made the deeply ill-advised choice to eat NyQuil-doused chicken, but as the FDA points out, even boiling the medicine is dangerous. The term “NyQuil chicken” has been blocked on TikTok and surfaces no videos, but a simple TikTok search for “NyQuil” unfortunately still has countless videos of the dangerous “recipe” taking shape.
It’s not the first time a social media challenge has gone off the rails. There was the Benadryl challenge. (The FDA said some people died from it.) The cinnamon challenge. The Tide Pod challenge. But if you’re going to partake in a chicken challenge anytime soon, how about learning to spatchcock?