More than 20 children have been hurt in Indonesia after taking part in a TikTok trend in which they are filmed devouring a street snack infused with liquid nitrogen. Over the past year, liquid nitrogen snacks, foods such as cereal and cheese puffs dipped in liquid nitrogen, have grown in popularity for their novelty. The snacks are often dubbed “Dragon Breath” for the “smoke” that is emitted from people’s mouths when the chemical vaporizes.
Growing alongside the snack’s popularity is the frequency of injuries and illness, said Dr. Diane Calello, medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center. The liquid nitrogen is so cold that it’s causing burn injuries to people’s throats and mouths, along with asthma-like symptoms, she said.
“What’s really happening here is the liquid nitrogen gets the food so cold that it causes a frostbite-like injury anywhere it touches,” Calello said.
Liquid nitrogen has an exceptionally low boiling point of minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit. The resulting vapor that is visible as the nitrogen quickly becomes a gas at room temperature mimics smoke or steam. Anything above that temperature turns the nitrogen from a liquid to a gas — like water boiling to steam at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
” Liquid nitrogen is not only dangerous when consumed, but it can also cause severe breathing difficulties from nitrogen fumes that are inhaled over a long time,” said the ministry’s director general Maxi Rein Rondonuwu.
Miguel Cosme, owner of Freezing Point since it opened in 2016, said there is a sign in the store to demonstrate the proper way to eat the Dragon Breath. Consumers are encouraged to use a toothpick to grab one piece at a time, chew on the sides of their mouths, and avoid contact with the tongue, Cosme said.
Customers must also be 18 or older to buy it at the Lyndhurst store or be accompanied by an adult.
“As long as the rules and regulations are followed, there shouldn’t be that much concern,” he said, adding that he’s never had an issue at the store with anyone harming themselves with the liquid nitrogen.