A while ago, a spicy-noodle-eating challenge became very popular (among competitive eaters and masochists, I can only assume). The challenge pits YouTubers against Korea’s spiciest instant noodles: Samyang Food’s Buldak Bokkeum Myun (which basically translates to “fire chicken stir-fry noodles”). Most people simply call this the Fire Noodle Challenge.
I’m not sure what compelled me to take on the challenge. It was not too long ago that I would break a sweat trying to eat a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. But I’ve built up my spice tolerance so much since then! ‘I’m a new person,’ I thought. I would prove how far I’ve come by conquering the Internet’s most feared noodle.
The instant noodles are prepared like most are: you heat the noodles in hot water, then strain out the water, leaving just the dry noodles.
Two packets of seasoning come with the fire noodles. The first is full of sesame seeds and thin strips of seaweed for extra flavor, and the second is full of the dark red, gelatinous, spicy sauce. Mix these ingredients together with your chopsticks and dig in.
At first, the noodles aren’t too spicy. The smoky chicken flavor is clearly present, and the slight zest only adds to it.
About two bites in, I realized my mistake. I was in over my head. It was extremely fiery. Extremely. I felt like I should have been able to breathe fire if I opened my mouth. I moved my bowl several feet away from me, downed a bottle of water and gave it a few minutes.
After taking a break, I convinced myself it wasn’t that bad. The challenge, after all, is to eat the noodles as quickly as possible. Surely, if you eat them fast enough, the spiciness won’t be able to catch you?
So I powered through it. I ate the entire bowl. I did it! That wasn’t so bad. It was kind of delicious…
I yelled, “Oh, god!” loudly and sprinted into the bathroom, where I ran my entire face under the faucet of cold water. I inhaled water through my nose, and I didn’t even care. Nothing helped ease the pain in my mouth and throat.
It tasted like what I imagine being pepper-sprayed feels like.
Tears streamed down my face as I stood, hunched over and trembling, in the bathroom, greedily scooping tap water into my mouth.
There were a few Very Real moments where I seriously, honestly thought I might have to go to the hospital. Have people died from this? I should have done more research. Was I going to be that one urban legend character that actually perishes after completing the super-spicy noodle challenge? Was that my fate?
It seemed like hours before I regained my composure, but I have, now, made a complete recovery from the fire noodle experience.
I do not actually recommend this challenge to anyone. It is a terrible idea. It is a Very Bad Idea. Please do not do this. Love yourself. Eat things that will not cause you bodily harm. Please. Take it from me: Buldak Bokkeum Myun is great for incapacitating your enemies, but it’s awful for dinner.