To be fair, adults do this as well. Here, I'll have the grown-ups at Mythbusters attempt the phenomenon and explain the challenge (spoiler: swallow a spoonful of cinnamon in a minute without water) and its dangers:
No one has died, yet. It does seem like a joke, or a farce, even following in the footsteps of the milk challenge (chug a gallon without puking) or the Saltine challenge (yep).
From The Los Angeles Times:
In the first three months of 2012, the nation's poison centers have had 139 calls -- close to three times as many as were received in all of 2011 -- seeking help and information about the intentional misuse of cinnamon. At least 122 of those calls arose from something called the "cinnamon challenge" -- a game growing in popularity among teens in which a child is dared to swallow a spoonful of ground or powdered cinnamon without drinking any water.Of the 139 calls, 30 required medical attention. (So that's, good, but the pneumonia rish is not good.) By June 2012 there 178 calls.
An ER doctor weighed in for Forbes last month:
Parents need to have a serious discussion with their children about the dangers associated with this stunt to prevent them from ever attempting this.Because, per this copy and paste job from The New York Times's Well blog:
A report published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday found that the stunt has led to a growing number of calls to poison control centers and visits to emergency rooms. Some teenagers have suffered collapsed lungs and ended up on ventilators.So don't take the challenge, Old People, and don't let your Young People, either!
Teens' 'cinnamon challenge': pneumonia risk, The Los Angeles Times
An ER Doctor's Perspective on "The Cinnamon Challenge": Don't Even Think of Doing It, Forbes
Consequences of the Cinnamon Challenge, NYT