FDA Warns Against Sleepy Chicken

A cooked chicken
A cooked chicken (source)

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned people to not eat chicken that has been cooked in NyQuil, a cold medication. The FDA issued the warning in response to the ‘Sleepy Chicken’ challenge which appeared in videos on the social media website, TikTok. NyQuil is meant to be taken at night as it makes users drowsy. Cooking the medication could change its effect or produce harmful vapors, according to the FDA.

The Sleepy Chicken is the latest in a series of social media challenges that are becoming increasingly bizarre. Back in 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge helped raise awareness and money for ALS research. In that case, participants poured a bucket of icy cold water over themselves before challenging another person to do the same thing. Recently, American company Paqui relaunched their ‘One Chip Challenge,’ which dares people to eat an extremely spicy chip and to resist drinking or eating anything for relief.

Some schools have banned the One Chip Challenge because students have become sick after eating the chip, sometimes in an attempt to go viral. The chip, which is flavored with two of the hottest known peppers, can cause real pain. However, in the case of Sleepy Chicken, the FDA announcement may have made the problem worse. Although Sleepy Chicken videos were available on TikTok, few users were seeing them. After the announcement, thousands of people started searching for ‘Sleepy Chicken.’ Whether people are trying the dangerous challenge is unclear, but more people are aware of it now.

Sources: reuters.com, npr.org, today.com, usatoday.com

For source links, see the article on ESLNewsStories.com

Worksheet with activities


Hear the article spoken:

Useful Language

  • Issue (v) - to announce or give something
  • Response (n) - a reaction or reply
  • Drowsy (adj) - sleepy, tired
  • Vapor (n) - gas, or small drops of liquid in the air that resemble gas, like steam
  • Bizarre (adj) - strange
  • Awareness (n) - knowledge and understanding of something
  • Dare (v) - to challenge someone to do something, to be brave enough to do something
  • Resist (v) - to stop yourself from doing something that you want to do
  • Ban (v) - to say that people must not do something
  • Viral (adj) - spreading across the internet quickly and seen by many people


Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. What did you think about this story? Was there any surprising information?
  2. Would you consider doing the Sleepy Chicken Challenge or the One Chip Challenge? Why or why not?
  3. Do you know of any other social media challenges? Have you completed any of them?
  4. If someone challenges you to do something, do you feel a lot of pressure to do it? Can you say ‘no’ easily?
  5. Which social media websites do you use? How do you use them?
  6. Why do people want to go viral?
  7. Overall, is social media good or bad for society?
  8. How does spicy food affect you?
  9. Have you taken medication that makes you feel drowsy? What happened?
  10. Did the FDA do the right thing by warning against the Sleepy Chicken Challenge? Or did they make the problem worse?