Dumb Craze of Snorting Smarties Spreads Across U.S.


Dumb Craze of Snorting Smarties Spreads Across U.S.

A young girl uses the outer casing of a tampon to crush the candy into a powder, forming the crumbled mixture into a cocaine-like line. After confirming that her friend was recording the event, she leans over with the tube to her nose and snorts it. This isn’t a parody of drug use; it’s from a YouTube video that is merely one of many featuring teens demonstrating the baffling craze of snorting Smarties. Although there is nothing to “gain” from the activity, the candy—never particularly popular before—is still being used in the drug-like ritual by kids. Unsurprisingly, in addition to the complete the lack of benefit, there are also risks associated with snorting Smarties and parents are being encouraged to warn kids about the consequences. 

The Trend

Middle school students across the country are participating in the trend of crushing and snorting the pill-shaped candy. The phenomenon is apparently nothing new — YouTube videos of the trend first appeared in 2007, but it’s still causing concern among parents. Although snorting is more common, some also opt to smoke Smarties. Schools have warned parents about the risks and have even instructed teachers to confiscate the candy. In Georgia, a 9-year-old student was suspended after being caught snorting Smarties. Although it’s often only attempted as a “dare,” it appears to be catching on as a trend even without such encouragement.

No Benefits, Plenty of Risks

Since the candies are just composed of sugar, the teens obtain no “high” to speak of by snorting them. It’s a useless activity, and the practice is generally followed by pain or coughing. As you might expect, there are many potential risks from snorting crystalline powder; it can lead to lung infections, bleeding and scarring, wheezing, coughing and, most troubling, the potential for nasal maggots. This occurs because remnants of candy that attract egg-laying flies are left inside the nose. As the larvae grow, the nose becomes infested with maggots. Long-term snorting of the candy (especially if it’s poorly crushed) could also lead to damage of the nasal membrane. Although unlikely, there is also a limited possibility of an allergic reaction, which could lead to anaphylaxis and even death.

Copying Drug Use Rituals

The practice would be nothing but an idiotic craze if it weren’t for the risks and the fact that teens are mimicking drug use rituals with their behavior. While the risks are significant reason to be concerned, it’s unlikely that any serious issues will arise unless the behavior is repeated several times. After all, it is just sugar we’re dealing with. However, the fact that a prominent part of the activity involves the crushing of the pills and forming them into a line (or alternatively, rolling them into a joint to be smoked) gives a much more alarming cause for concern. These activities are strongly associated with drug use, and that kids are replicating it suggests that the behaviors are still somewhat idealized among youth.

Some experts are concerned that this is related to the fact that many teens idolize famous drug users, such as Kurt Cobain, and suggest that talking to children about the risks of drug use early is a good way to protect against future problems. Otherwise, children will just get their information on drugs from peers who won’t often be reliable sources of information. In short, parents need to be aware of what’s going on in their children’s lives and be willing to offer them advice and guidance.

Fad? Yes, But It’s a Recurring Theme

There is little doubt that snorting Smarties is merely a transient fad, given that it would be more enjoyable to just eat them. However, with other crazes such as the cinnamon challenge and condom snorting also surging in popularity in recent years, it doesn’t seem like we can discount things like this as mere childhood stupidity. There could be an underlying reason these behaviors are becoming popular, and determining what exactly that is may help us prevent whatever the next craze will be before it hits YouTube. Perhaps the increased sensation-seeking behavior and desire for social acceptance among teens is responsible, but it’s still important to have a thorough understanding of what drives these bizarre fads so we can do our best to steer children away from danger.

Image Credit: By LaurelG (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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