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the teens

A Brief History of the Condom Snorting Challenge

The viral condom-snorting stunt can be traced back to at least the 90s.

Samantha Cole

Imagine hocking a loogie, but instead of snot and spit, it’s a stringy mass of lube and latex. The latest internet panic involves teens inhaling condoms through their noses and spitting them out through their mouths. (Disclaimer: Don’t try this, you will hurt yourself or choke and die.)

That’s the Condom Snorting Challenge, which is either a very gross April Fool’s gag, or the next deeply dumb viral stunt. I want to believe that this is just a bunch of funny teens who are trying to freak out the media with what seems like an obvious gag, but people were actually eating Tide Pods to the point that the Consumer Products Safety Commission had to publicly address the problem, so who knows.

Concerned parents are holding awareness meetings about it. Forbes contributors are writing lengthy opinion pieces about it. Multiple news outlets are warning parents about the fad’s dangers.

It’s disgusting and super dangerous, but inhaling condoms is nothing new. Reports are mixed as to where it first appeared—Know Your Meme says it began with a 2006 video on Break.com by user Tommydyhr uploaded a video titled “Condom Sucking From Nose to Mouth.” This video no longer appears to be accessible on Break.com, but Know Your Meme has embedded a playable version on its site.

But we can trace the roots of the condom-snorting challenge back even further, to October 1993, when Kent University’s campus newspaper, the Daily Kent Stater, wrote about the “Jim Rose Circus Sideshow.” Matt “The Tube” Crowley opened the show “by inhaling a condom through his nose and spitting it out of his mouth.”

For the next few years, there are few records of the Condom Snorting Challenge online—but it does reappear in the mid-2000s, with the Break.com video in 2006.

The godmother of Condom Snorting Challenges may well be Amber-Lynn Strong, a YouTuber whose April 2013 video of a big ol’ condom snort garnered 2.2 million views and viral coverage from Gawker, Buzzfeed, and more.

This one’s since been deleted by YouTube for containing “harmful or dangerous content,” but Know Your Meme has a CollegeHumor video of it embedded on its site if you so wish to view it, and ABC News documented the scene in a 2013 blog post about the video’s popularity:

In the video, the young woman unwraps the condom, marveling at its ability to stretch. Then, cautiously she sticks the end of the condom into her nose, her eyes fixed on some far-off point. "This feels so weird," she says. She takes a tentative sniff, then another, the latex sliding up with surprising ease. At first, she's concerned. "Maybe I shouldn't be doi--" But the moment is fleeting. The camera looks on, an unblinking eye, as she relaxes and snorts the filmy latex sleeve up her nasal cavity. It tastes of plastic, of spermicide. It tastes like page views. But then -- whoa. The thing slides down, into her mouth.

In May 2012, YouTuber Isaac Mathers may have coined the term “Condom Challenge” with his video of the stunt. That one’s still up. Mathers has since abandoned his YouTube channel; I wonder if he’s doing okay.

Various others have picked up the condom challenge mantle over the years with mixed popularity, including spinoff stunts involving condoms as water balloons—when they throw the water-filled condom at someone’s head, the condom wraps doesn’t burst, but traps them inside like a sick head-aquarium.

No one should attempt this, but if history teaches us anything, it’s that kids will do dumb shit whether we’re watching them do it on YouTube or at a local circus show. The teens are mostly good, and will survive. I hope.