Idiots Eating Cinnamon: The New Beer Bong? plus! Cinnamon Mangonana Smoothie Recipe

“Cinnamon challenge” appears to be a popular thing among the late teens/early 20’s set, but I’d never heard of it. While researching it, I learned a couple of other things about cinnamon along the way. Here are the results of my search.

To go directly to the recipe, simply scroll down.

Photo by Michelle Byrd

Idiots Eating Cinnamon: The New Beer Bong?                                  by Michelle Byrd

I confess: I just finished viewing eighteen minutes of various “cinnamon challenge” clips on YouTube.

“Cinnamon challenge” videos are basically this: Predominantly young individuals, it appears, are filmed as they attempt to ingest either one precise tablespoon of or one heaping spoonful of ground cinnamon. If you don’t know exactly what effect this will have on a person (which I did not), it has an unfavorable one. Most of the “stars” of the videos end up performing histrionics, spitting or spewing forth the cinnamon, yelling “Oh my gawd!” and doing a pseudo-interpretive dance. The cameraman usually doubles as the narrator, and there are often multiple spectator(s) involved.

In one particular video titled “Wife beats cinnamon challenge,” the narrator is the star’s husband and spends the entire time berating her for her ability to succeed with the challenge. Many other narrators are nicer, but all videos are equitably asinine. The titles alone can help you determine this: “The Cinnamon Challenge (WARNING PUKE)” or “Hot Girl Cinnamon Challenge Freakout.” I am pleasantly surprised to see cinnamon spelled correctly every time, simply because it’s a tricky one.

Ingesting tablespoons of cinnamon is a dumb idea. While cinnamon is magically enticing when sprinkled onto or mixed into something in just the right dose, it is rather atrocious-tasting when taken alone. Granted, I haven’t been dumb enough to try a large amount. I tasted a small amount by itself, and that was enough to give me a heads-up. It’s also a dumb idea because cassia cinnamon, the kind predominantly sold in the United States (and not “true” cinnamon), contains coumarin, a moderately toxic substance that can do some damage to your liver and kidneys3. Honestly, though, unless you are going to be ingesting tablespoonfuls of cinnamon on a daily basis, a little cinnamon is a wonderful spice to dash into pies, shakes, cookies, coffee and more.

Studying the intricacies of cinnamon and its related antics is not how I started out on YouTube. Originally, I was looking for clips of Bobby Flay’s appearance on HBO’s Entourage. Flay fetish? Methinks not. I needed to see him in various settings to determine whether I am really an anti-Flayite or not. When I failed at finding actual episode footage, I began looking for the benefits of cinnamon. It’s the next logical step.

Result after hours of research on the (entire) web? Well, I obviously learned about the cassia toxicity issue. Probably the most scientifically-based thing I learned was that there have been a couple of notable studies done with diabetics. These studies showed that cinnamon can have potentially positive, though minimal, effects on blood sugar. The researchers’ conclusion: “the effects of cinnamon differ by population” and ultimately more studies should be done2. There’s really little extensive study done with cinnamon’s effects at all. That’s why I found it more interesting that so many sources touted the benefits of the spice with absolutely no sound research to support their claims—“suppresses appetite,” “lowers cholesterol” or “balances blood sugar.” Just type “benefits of cinnamon” into a search engine, and you can find these claims everywhere. I also saw statistics like “90% of all the cinnamon brought into the U.S. is cassia”1 without any citations, which was appalling. The Internet can really sell so much of anything and nothing to the public. But I digress.

Finally, I learned that the “cinnamon challenge” has become the new beer bong. Oh, come on, there are a few similarities:

1.      Like beer bong, the activity begs for the young and naive. Newcomers evoke that “laugh-my-ass-off” (lmao, in web world) reaction necessary to make this “f-ing hilarious.”

2.      As with anything involving funnels or silverware and a crowd, spectators stand around making more-than-useless comments to warm the cold air. What’s worse now than 20 years ago is that everyone is filming comments like “It’s like that cinnamon shot right out you’re a**!”

3.      When risk-taking co-eds decide to partake, our precious resources vanish, People!

Let’s not fool ourselves. Beer bong is not dead. Some of these folks know their way around a beer bong, too. Much like excessive beer drinkers, people who’ve thrown back a little cinny-cinny report fun facts such as vomiting6 and noticing that the “sense of taste in the front of [the] mouth ha[s] disappeared”4. Maybe one difference is that no one has to do the walk of shame the next morning. Oh, wait. Maybe there is some post-challenge coverage.

Upon further review, I took note that some of the videos dated as far back as 2007, an eon in web land. Maybe this phenomenon is antiquated. What’s up next? Paprika? For goodness sakes, people, I can only tolerate intense research on one spice per year! Can someone please keep me hip before I write these things?

Cinnamon Mangonana Smoothie – recipe courtesy of Michelle Byrd  

 prep time: 5-10 minutes                serves approx three 8 oz. glasses     *medium thickness 

 1 C. whole milk

 1/4-1/2  C. orange juice, no pulp, adjusted for your desired sweetness

 3-4 dashes of cinnamon

 1 C. chopped, frozen mango (don’t need quite as much if using fresh mango). ***You can buy pre-cut, pre-frozen fruit at the grocery.               

 1 whole, frozen banana***When it looks like my bananas are starting to overripen, but I know I won’t/can’t eat them, I peel them, wrap them in foil, and freeze for this occasion. I usually keep 2-3 bananas in my freezer at a time.


1. Into a blender, pour your whole milk and 1/4 cup orange juice.

2. Add 3-4 dashes of cinnamon. ***Be careful here. You can always add more but cannot reduce.

 3. Put in ½ cup of mango. Pulse/blend as needed.

4. Once thoroughly blended, add the rest of the mango. Pulse/blend as needed.

5. Once all mango blended, cut your banana into quarters and add to blender two at a time. Pulse/mix until thoroughly blended.

6. When finished, pour into glass, put 1-2 final dashes of cinnamon on top, insert straw, enjoy!!


*Use skim milk instead of whole to save a few calories. However, prepare for a less creamy smoothie.

*I make concerted efforts to avoid adding pure sugar, which is why I add the juice. Plus, milk has some natural sugars in it, as do the fruits. If you like your stuff sweeter than I, plan to add a little sugar. Do every item to taste.

Note: All facts about cinnamon information on here are for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor if you have any further questions about the effects of ingesting too much cinnamon.

1Bitar, Byron and Anne Wilder. “Cinnamon.” A Cook’s Wares. 2010. Web. 15 Aug 2011. <>.

2Blevins, Steve M. and Leyva, Misti J., et al. “Effect of Cinnamon on Glucose and Lipid Levels in Non-Insulin-Dependent Type 2 Diabetes.” American Diabetes Association. 2011. Web. 15 Aug 2011. <;.

3Clemenger, Kristine. “The Healthy Cinnamon—Ceylon or Cassia?” Ezine 2011.Web. 15 Aug 2011. <—Ceylon-or-Cassia?&id=5312787&gt;.

4“Cinnamon Challenge made me lose my sense of taste? What happened? How do I fix it?” (posted by Tyler T.) Yahoo! Answers. 2011. Web. 15 Aug 2011.

5 “‘Vanilla Extract’ Produced in Mexico is No Bargain.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 18 Aug 2011. Web. 15 Aug 2011.

6″Who here has done the cinnamon challenge???” 2011. Web. 15 Aug 2011. <;.


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