Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!
A 14-year-old boy in Sydney, Australia landed in the hospital last month with severe third-degree burns to his legs after attempting a viral stunt inspired by the Netflix sensation Squid Game.
Squid Game, a Korean dystopian series in which contestants must compete in a serious of childlike challenges -- facing deadly consequences if they lose -- has become a pop culture phenomenon around the world in recent weeks, and courted controversy along the way. As the show's popularity has grown, teens have begun emulating various elements from the show itself on social media services like TikTok. When he was burned, the boy was attempting the "honeycomb challenge," in which players must carve a shape into a thin sheet of honeycomb toffee before the mixture sets.
According to The Daily Mail (warning, graphic burn photos at the link), the boy was mixing up the honeycomb using a recipe he found online, but used a cup that wasn't safe for microwaves to make the mix of sugar, water, and baking soda. When he tried to take the cup out of the microwave, it essentially exploded, causing first-degree burns to his hand and third-degree burns to his legs as the blend of melted plastic and hot sugar landed and stuck to his shins.
"It was like toffee and burnt right through to the nerves," the boy's mother said.
The boy will reportedly have to spend a year wearing a pressure bandage on his leg to complete the healing process, and what's more striking is that he's not the only one suffering after trying the challenge. Westmead Children's Hospital in New South Wales has seen three children in the course of a month with severe burns from attempting the Squid Game-inspired challenge, which requires them to first melt the honeycomb mixture down and then pour it out into parchment paper for carving. The accidents have led Westmead doctors to speak out on the importance of safe handling when it comes to the honeycomb.
"The honeycomb toffee mix is both hotter and stickier," Dr. Erik La Hei, acting head of Westmead's burn unit, said. "If the mixture is spilt or handled while it's still hot, the greater heat and longer contact times causes deeper, more serious burns."
Dr. La Hei also noted that he was aware of at least two other causes around Australia stemming from the challenge. So, if you're bored at home and you're thinking of trying to re-enact a Squid Game challenge, think twice — or at least ask a parent for help.