Long gone are the days when kids are impressed by desserts as simple as ice cream cones. A new, high-tech dessert called Dragon's Breath has been popping up in malls and at fairs in recent years, and since then, several people have reportedly had extremely scary reactions to the dessert — including another young boy last week, according to his mom's now-viral Facebook post. That being said, parents must be wondering: Is Dragon's Breath safe?
Dragon's Breath is a dessert made of rainbow-colored cereal coated with liquid nitrogen, as Dearly reported. After taking a bite of the smokey treat, "smoke" comes out of the nose and mouth, much like a dragon. OK, sure, that sounds pretty cool. However, it can have dangerous effects. Racheal Richard McKenny of Saint Augustine, Florida recently treated her two kids to a Dragon's Breath at their local mall, including her asthmatic son Johnny, who is 7 years old, according to People. She wrote about the terrifying experience — which happened at a mall in Jacksonville, Florida last week — in a Facebook post.
"On our way out, we let the kids split one order of the Dragon’s Breath cereal treats. They had fun and it seemed harmless enough," McKenny wrote. "We left the mall right after that and started the 40-minute car ride home. About 10-minutes into the ride home, Johnny started an occasional cough."
McKenny explained in her post that Johnny has asthma, and that she usually carries his inhaler with her, even though he almost never needs to use it. Unfortunately, she did not have it with her that day. "Around 20 minutes in, the cough became really consistent. By the time we passed the Palencia sub division, he was coughing so bad that he was having trouble catching his breath," her post continued. "We knew he couldn’t breathe, and we knew that we couldn’t get him to the hospital in time."
Her husband, John McKenny, realized that they were down the street from a fire station, so the family quickly went there, where EMTs were luckily present and able to help. According to her Facebook post, she explained:
The EMTs were able to immediately start Johnny on an albuterol treatment and hook him up to an IV while preparing him for transport. The nebulizer was not improving his breathing at all and, by the time they got him loaded into the ambulance, he needed a shot of epinephrine. Johnny had a second breathing treatment and steroid on the way to the hospital and was doing so much better by the time we got to Flagler Hospital.
According to McKenny's post, the liquid nitrogen smoke is what caused Johnny's adverse reaction — and doctors concur that the drink is dangerous.
Romper spoke with Dr. Jarret Patton, a board-certified pediatrician and best selling author of Whose Bad @$ Kids Are Those? A Parent's Guide to Behavior for Children of All Ages, to get the down-low on just how safe or unsafe Dragon's Breath can be. He tells Romper via email:
Liquid nitrogen is at least -320 degrees F, even when it turns to gas from that temperature the air can be very cold and cause burns to the soft tissues in the mouth and throat. Additionally, those with temperature sensitive asthma can have an attack requiring medication. Some things should just be avoided until the safety can be further studied, Dragon's Breath is one of them.
In 2017, a 14-year-old girl burned her hand after touching a Dragon's Breath snack, as TODAY reported. Dr. Reed Caldwell, an assistant professor at the Department of Emergency Medicine at NYU Langone Health, spoke with TODAY at the time, and he explained that liquid nitrogen presents a number of risks.
“First is rapid significant damage to the skin and body if swallowed ... Liquid nitrogen is what’s used by dermatologists to burn things off skin so we know it can be destructive to tissue," he told the outlet in 2017, adding that inhaling liquid nitrogen can cause asphyxiation, and that getting liquid nitrogen in an eye can cause cornea damage. “I would urge caution for anybody around liquid nitrogen, particularly children,” Caldwell added, according to TODAY.
Basically, Dragon's Breath is just not safe. No one should try this dessert, even if they do not have asthma, because of the risks simply touching the dessert presents.
Luckily, as his mom shared on Facebook, Johnny is home and doing well — and McKenny has plenty of advice for parents considering letting their kids try a Dragon's Breath. Firstly, she suggests that all parents look up where the nearest EMTs are located in their area, as sometimes they are closer than a hospital.
Additionally, she strongly recommends everyone with asthma have their inhaler on them at all times. "Johnny has never needed his inhaler before (even on afternoons where he walks 5+ miles in the theme parks), so I’ve never switched it to my purse for simple shopping trips," she advised in her Facebook post. "Again, this was my mistake. Please don’t do that."
She also warned people against letting friends or family with asthma eat Dragon's Breath. "I should have known better, but it did not occur to me that this food could have this effect," MccKenny wrote. "As a result, my son could have died. Please don’t make the same mistake I did."
From now on, I think I'll stick to more straightforward desserts...