WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - The family of a Worcester teen who died after participating in the viral “One Chip Challenge” filed a lawsuit Thursday against the company that made the chip at the center of the challenge. 

Harris Wolobah, 14, of Worcester died in September of last year after attempting the challenge, which involved eating an extremely spicy tortilla chip made by Paqui. 

At a press conference on Thursday, Wolobah’s parents, Lois and Amos, wiped away tears while their legal team announced their lawsuit. 

“Growing up, he gave so much love and received love from all who knew him,” said attorney Douglas Sheff.

Wolobah’s death prompted an outpouring of grief in Worcester, with one vigil drawing more than 100 attendees. 

In May of this year, an autopsy report said Wolobah died from eating a large quantity of chili pepper extract. The report said he also had a congenital heart defect, as reported by the Associated Press. 

In addition to Paqui, the Wolobah family’s new lawsuit targets Amplify Snack Brands, which acquired Paqui in 2015. The suit also names the Hershey Company, which bought Amplify and its subsidiaries in 2018. 

Among other defendants, the lawsuit targets the store in Worcester where Wolobah’s family said Wolobah bought a Paqui chip, as well as two store employees.

The family’s lawsuit says the “One Chip Challenge” encouraged customers to eat a chip with dangerous levels of a chemical irritant and upload their reactions on social media. 

In legal filings, the family’s attorneys argue the challenge’s marketing campaign specifically targeted teens with colorful labels and playful death warnings on its package. 

“Face the reaper,” read one message on a “One Chip Challenge” package.

“Any last words?” asked another message.

“It seems to us that they were marketing to children — the challenges, the cartoons, the enticement, everything that would attract kids,” Sheff said. 

A Paqui spokesperson issued a statement following the lawsuit, saying “We were and remain deeply saddened by the death of Harris Wolobah and extend our condolences to his family and friends.”

“Paqui’s One Chip Challenge was intended for adults only, with clear and prominent labeling highlighting that the product was not for children or anyone sensitive to spicy foods or has underlying health conditions,” the spokesperson said. 

Paqui’s spokesperson said the company worked with retailers to remove the One Chip Challenge product from shelves in September 2023 “out of an abundance of caution.”

Back at Thursday’s press conference, though, Sheff said the Wolobah family is still grieving and still seeking justice. 

“They believe that by filing this lawsuit, they’re going to ensure this doesn’t happen to other kids and other families,” Sheff said.

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