The TikTok trend of cooking chicken in cold medicine is dangerous, says doctors

A person cooks chicken breast in liquid cold medicine. (Youtube/Willeezy Entertainment)
A person cooks chicken breast in liquid cold medicine. (Youtube/Willeezy Entertainment)

Doctors are advising young people to think twice before they take part in a bizarre TikTok trend in which they cook chicken breasts in over-the-counter liquid cold and cough medicine.

Known as "NyQuil Chicken" or "Sleepy Chicken," the trend, which many chalk up to being a joke, has surfaced on various video platforms. In the videos, people place chicken breasts in a pan and pour the medicine over it, until it absorbs the liquid.

In one satirical video in which a many claims he's making a cold remedy for his sick wife, he pours bright green decongestant over the chicken and advises letting it sit there for "5 to 30 minutes" as the medicine marinates in the chicken.

"Make sure you're constantly flipping over the chicken. You don't want to give one side more attention than the other," he tells the camera. "Sometimes the steam really makes you sleepy."

Several of the original videos featuring the trend have since been deleted from TikTok.

This isn't the first time the bizarre phenomenon made the rounds on the Internet. Back in 2017, anonymous image site 4Chan showed several people making "sleepytime chicken,"and trend has been spotted on Youtube.

"Taking medicine with food typically isn’t dangerous, since many people do it with their daily dosage of medicine," Aaron Hartman, a physician and assistant clinical professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, told “When you cook cough medicine like NyQuil, however, you boil off the water and alcohol in it, leaving the chicken saturated with a super concentrated amount of drugs in the meat. If you ate one of those cutlets completely cooked, it’d be as if you're actually consuming a quarter to half a bottle of NyQuil.”

In addition to eating the chicken, inhaling the meat when it's doused in NyQuil can prove to be quite dangerous because it's an aerosolized form. Inhaling it into your lungs can be particularly toxic.

“Inhaled, these medicines also enter your bloodstream really quickly and are not going past your liver for detoxification,” Hartman said. “The effects can be quite bad depending on how much you inhale.”

TikTok is a common spot for fun food trends, like whipped coffee and cloud bread, to pop up. However, this isn't the first time people have crafted dangerous combinations of ingredients for the popular app. Last summer, a frozen honey trick rose in popularity. It featured people filling water bottles with honey, corn syrup, or a mix of both and stashing it in the freezer before eating it, Women's Health reported. However, some people found out the hard way that the trend resulted in diarrhea, cramping and bloating.

Another trend-gone-wrong on TikTok included fried "mini-eggs" which were supposed to be kid-friendly. Unfortunately, experts told TODAY that cooking frozen eggs could lead to serious issues, particularly in little ones.

“Due to the risk of food-borne illness, especially among an at-risk population like children, it would not be recommended to do this method of egg preparation," said a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. "There are food safety risks involved, such as cross-contamination and under-cooking the egg, that could cause food-borne illness if not properly handled. It’s also generally not recommended to freeze eggs in their shell."

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