You should be very chicken about trying this new TikTok trend. The so-called “NyQuil Chicken” or “Sleepy Chicken” trend consists of cooking chicken breasts in a pan while they’re drenched in NyQuil or some similar over-the-counter cough and medication. Now, you should be careful about what you put on your breasts in general. But cooking chicken with such a medication? That’s some fowl play.
Now, it’s not clear whether this bird-brained trend was originally meant to be a joke. As you can see in the following video, the narrator didn’t really clarify whether he was providing an actual cooking lesson or rather a, cough, cough, parody:
As you can see, the video started off with some guy holding a Night Time medication bottle over a pair of chicken breasts and saying, “I got sick last last night so I’m cooking up some NyQuil chicken.” Now, Night Time isn’t exactly NyQuil. But presumably it’s similar, and TikTok videos ain’t exactly known for always being scientific and precise.
Nevertheless, the narrator then poured ample amounts of this medication on to the chicken while heating everything in a pan. He explained, “I’ve done this in the past, and usually I use about you know four thirds in a bottle,” without clarifying what exactly four thirds in a bottle means. He continued with, “If this is your first time doing this you can get away with using about a fifth.”
As the chicken boiled in a medication jacuzzi, the narrator proceeded with, “Season that NyQuil in there just at the right temperature. You want to let it sit there and let it sizzle for about five to 30 minutes.” Umm, five to 30 minutes is a pretty large range. IN cooking, that can mean the difference between a dish and mush.
A little bit later, the narrator emphasized, “Make sure you’re constantly flipping over the chicken. You don’t want to give one side more attention than the other.” He added, “Sometimes the steam really makes you sleepy.” Really, the vapor of a boiled medication can affect you if you inhale it? Gee, imagine that.
Near the end of the video, the narrator said, “What you are looking for is that blue color.” After the cooking was done, the narrator poured the remaining medication back into the original bottle.
This wasn’t the only example of the so-called Sleep Chicken Challenge or #SleepChicken on social media. The following tweet showed another TikTok video:
There are other videos of people boiling whole chickens in cough and cold medicine as well.
These as a whole are very bad ideas on multiple fronts. First of all, whoever said, “this food really could some NyQuil to improve its taste?” Yeah, NyQuil typically ain’t a flavor like “ranch”, “Buffalo”, or even “lilac.” There’s a bourbon chicken and Angel’s Envy bourbon but no people-who-envy-chicken-that-tastes-like-cough-and-cold medication.
Secondly, boiling off the water in a medication could make it much more concentrated and thus raise the risk of an overdose.
Thirdly, inhaling vapors of the medication is essentially taking the medication. So you have no way of controlling how much medication is making it into your body.
Finally, heating a medication can change its properties in different ways. It can be like a box of really bad and potentially chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.
In general, don’t cook food with any medication unless the packaging, your doctor, and your pharmacist explicitly tell you to do so. When cooking, you may have the aspiration to be an Iron Chef but not an Iron Lung Chef. You don’t want to end up sending yourself or anyone else you are cooking for to the hospital. That would be the definition of a bad dinner party.
NyQuil Chicken certainly isn’t the first dangerous challenge or trend to emerge on social media. For example, I’ve covered for Forbes the #FrozenHoneyChallenge that could have left you with botulism in your body and the #TidePodChallenge that could’ve left you with, well, Tide Pods in your mouth. Social media can be all fun and games until someone starts eating chicken cooked in NyQuil. If you post something on social media meant to be a joke, make it clear that it’s a joke and not real health advice or a real cooking lesson. Think about how others may actually interpret what you say and follow it.
If you are at the receiving end of a video, consider any advice offered the same way you would consider graffiti on a bathroom store, an advertisement on a billboard, or what some random person may yelling at you from across a train station platform. Take it with a pan full of salt, without the NyQuil. Oh, and don’t cook food in a medication simply because someone did it on social media. If someone gives you the bird, a bird boiled in NyQuil, that is, a proper response might be, “what the cluck?”