Ah, teenagers. They never fail to alarm us older folks with their latest stunts and fads. In the age of social media, the dicey trends move more quickly than ever — from Tide Pods to Momo and now the “Shell-On Challenge.”
In this supposedly latest viral phenomenon, kids take a bite out of a piece of food, shell and all. The joke is that the “shell” can be any type of packaging for the food item, whether natural or artificial: a banana peel, a cardboard box, a plastic wrapper.
Teens then post photos and videos of themselves taking the challenge.
Here’s a prime example: Liam Hamm, a high school student in Tempe, Arizona, attracted attention when his friends posted a short video to Snapchat, showing him ripping into a bag of carrots.
“Yall eat ur lunch with or without the shell,” reads the clip’s caption. In this Instagram capture of a scene from the video, radio station WESJ 91.6 in Jacksonville, Florida warns kids about participating in the challenge:
Another video making the rounds shows a young man taking big bites of an unpeeled banana and orange, then tearing a chunk from a cardboard box of cereal with his teeth. It comes from YouTube user @Sempre:
Pretty dumb, right?
Fortunately, it seems like that’s about all there is to the shell-on challenge. The Daily Beast published a story Monday that questions the notion that this is a scary, fast-spreading fad with dire health consequences.
The Daily Beast spoke with Matt Schimkowitz, an editor at Know Your Meme — a site that researches these types of internet happenings. Schimkowitz said there may be lots of “shell-on challenge” videos showing up as Snapchat stories, then disappearing. However, nothing much is emerging on other social media platforms.
“Either it’s truly only on Snapchat — making it basically the first and only Snapchat trend to not bleed over to Instagram or YouTube — or it’s not actually a thing, which is my hunch,” Schimkowitz told the Daily Beast.
Indeed, the video above only has about 87,000 views at press time. A search for #shellonchallenge on Twitter only produces 140 tweets, many of which are news articles or people commenting on how idiotic it is. Searching Instagram gets you 45 results. These numbers suggest that the challenge is not catching on.
Tellingly, a notable amount of posts are either reposts of the same couple of videos or from kooky morning-zoo radio show hosts giving it a try. This one is from Mix 106 in San Jose, California:
This one is from the Quincy Harris Morning Show:
Two co-hosts from The Bobby Bones Show in Nashville. One tried eating a banana with a peel:
Another took a bite out of an orange with the peel — and from the looks of it, it doesn’t taste good!
Some have also joked about getting their pet in on the challenge:
View this post on Instagram
I don’t see what’s so challenging about this. I’ll pretty much eat almost anything once. ð #shellonchallenge #tera #eatitall #shellon #challenge #tabbytuesday #tabby #fluffy #cat #banana #bananapeel #yum #instacute #instacat #meow #cutie #loveher #tuesday #furry #funny #lovely #cutiepie
The Daily Beast story also notes that most of the posts show people biting into fruit — not risky, inedible items. No matter what they choose to mangle, hardly anyone is shown swallowing what they bite off. Hopefully, the media hype won’t cause this trend to actually become more viral.