A “Squid Game”-inspired trend has resulted in an Australian teen suffering first- and third-degree burns and nerve damage.
In the ultra-violent survival game show, losing the challenge means instant death. But in real life, some TikTok users trying their hand at the challenge are also facing dire consequences.
In the hit Netflix show’s “honeycomb game,” contestants must cut out shapes from a paper-thin sheet of honeycomb with a needle. If the sheet cracks in the process, the player loses.
While on lockdown in Sydney, Australia, 14-year-old Aiden Higgins set out to make honeycomb using a TikTok recipe that called for a mixture of water, bicarb soda and sugar in a plastic cup. When Higgins heated the concoction in the microwave, the plastic of the non-microwaveable cup melted together with the other ingredients.
According to the DailyMail, Higgins suffered first-degree burns on his hand and third degree burns to his leg. The burns on his leg caused nerve damage so severe that doctors considered giving him a skin graft.
“It boiled up to a ridiculous temperature, and when he took the cup out it exploded in his hand,” his mother Helen told the Daily Telegraph. “It has burnt his hand, and because it was sugar and plastic melted together, it has run down his leg from his knee down to his shin and it stuck and kept on burning and burning and burning.”
His recovery is expected to take a year.
Netflix didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.
Two other children have been admitted to hospitals in Sydney for injuries they sustained from the honeycomb challenge. In response to the rising number of cases, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead issued a warning to parents, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Dr. Erik La Hei, Head of Burns at Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, said he was aware of several other cases in addition to the three in Sydney.
“We’ve had three cases here and from my colleagues I’ve heard of one in Perth and one in Melbourne as well,” he said, “…Molten sugar is much hotter than boiling water and it makes for a very deep burn almost instantaneously, it’s quite dangerous.”
As reported by the DailyMail, Higgins is now warning other kids to stay away from the challenge, at least without parental supervision.
The number of Google searches for the honeycomb challenge have risen as “Squid Game” continues to break viewing records. In its second full week on Netflix, the dystopian drama racked up 3.260 billion minutes in streaming time. It has surpassed viewing records previously held by Netflix originals such as “Bridgerton” and “The Queen’s Gambit.”