Squid Game honeycomb challenge prompts urgent warning

Photo credit: Tim Hunter, Sunday Telegraph

The record-breaking Netflix series ‘Squid Game’ has been viewed by millions of people all over the world, with many of the show’s challenges becoming popular TikTok trends.

One of the most popular trends to recreate is the ‘Dalgona Candy’ challenge, which encourages people to make honeycomb and carving out a shape in the sweet treat without breaking it.

As innocent as the game may sound, the challenge has prompted an urgent warning from burns surgeons at The Children's Hospital at Westmead.

Three children have been treated for serious burns at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead  in the last month alonefrom attempting to make honeycomb, and other burns services across Australia are seeing similar trends. 

Dr Erik La Hei, Acting Head of the Burns Unit, warned parents of the significant burns risk posed by making honeycomb, and urged parents and teenagers alike to remain extra vigilant to avoid injury.

“Sugar melts at a temperature that is higher than what’s needed to boil water, so the honeycomb toffee mix is both hotter and ‘stickier’.  If the mixture is spilt or handled while it’s still hot, the greater heat and longer contact time causes deeper, more serious burns,” he said.

“It is absolutely vital that if an accident like this does occur, parents and teenagers know the right first aid steps to take and run the burnt area under cool running water for at least 20 minutes as soon as possible.” 

Fourteen-year-old Aiden knows first-hand how risky the challenge can be, after he sustained deep burns to his hand and leg while handling the hot honeycomb. 

While Aiden’s burns are healing well, he will require ongoing treatment and will spend the next year in a pressure banadage to ensure proper healing occurs.

"It’s shocking that such a simple act, like making honeycomb, could have such serious consequences,” Aiden's mum, Helena said.

“It’s been a tough few weeks with regular visits to the Hospital to have dressings changed and checks on Aiden’s burns."

"Thankfully his burns are healing well on their own, but it’s a long journey ahead.” 

Dr La Hei’s advice to teenagers is to always cook with supervision.

“We don’t want to discourage teenagers from cooking, it is a fun activity. But we do want to ensure they do this safely, especially when handling hot liquids. This means cooking with either the supervision, or help, of an adult,” he said.

If a child is burnt, immediate first aid is important to reduce the severity of the injury, this includes:

  • Placing the burn under cool running water for 20 minutes. This will cool the burn and reduce swelling.

  • Removing any clothing or jewellery where possible.

  • Seeking medical help if the burn is bigger than a 20-cent piece, or if you have any concerns.

For more information on burns prevention and first aid, visit the Kids Health Promotion website or complete the burns module of the free online CPR Training for Parents here.