By now, most people know that fever, cough, and shortness of breath are telltale signs of a possible COVID-19 case. However, a new social media challenge is bringing attention to one of the more obscure symptoms of the disease. With the TikTok COVID-19 “taste test,” users with the illness are eating some less-than-appetizing snacks to demonstrate just how much it affects their sense of taste.
The challenge dates back to at least July of this year, when TikTok user Shannon Roche noticed she couldn’t taste the potato chips she was eating. After finding that she couldn’t smell her perfume either, Roche and her roommate got tested for COVID-19 — and came up positive.
Roche and her roommate quarantined themselves at home for two weeks, during which they wiled away the hours on TikTok. Eventually, the pair took to having Roche taste different alcoholic drinks to see if she could identify them.
In a follow-up video, Roche taste-tests a number of strong-flavored items — including hot sauce and balsamic vinegar — with a blindfold on.
Months after her diagnosis, Roche told the New York Post that her sense of taste was still affected.
“I can’t taste pumpkin flavors, but I can taste my caramel iced coffee,” she told the outlet in September. “I wasn’t able to smell the grounds until two weeks after I tested positive.”
The Taste Tests Continue
More recently, TikTok user Russell Donnelly has gone viral for his own take on the COVID-19 taste test.
“I am currently COVID positive and I can’t taste anything,” Donnelly explains in his viral video. “Everyone keeps telling me to eat some nasty stuff, but I don’t have any nasty stuff in my house, so I figured I’d just eat some stuff that would be strong or pungent or something, just to see what it’s like.”
In the clip, which has 2 million likes, Donnelly proceeds to take a big chomp out of an onion, a shot of lemon juice and a spoonful of garlic paste.
“Nothing,” Donnelly confirms at the end of the video. “This is a crazy virus.”
Donnelly, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on November 5, has since posted several clips of himself consuming toothpaste, Wasabi Oreos, baby food and even sardines — all with no reaction. His videos have become so popular that as he told the Post, “I reckon I’ll continue to do it when my senses return!”
Still, though his is a relatively mild case, Donnelly took time to acknowledge the danger of COVID and advise caution.
COVID Taste Test TikTok — Sources
New York Post — “COVID-positive TikTokers taste-test gross food, booze in lockdown”
New York Post — “TikTok star’s repulsive ‘COVID-19 taste test’ is a viral sensation”
TikTok — @rustardlikemustard
TikTok — @shanroche