The world of cooking has certainly evolved over the years, providing consumers with the idea that food can be more than a pleasure for the palate; it can be an experience.

That’s what is behind the newest dessert, Dragon’s Breath. The frosty snack, often in cereal form, is infused with liquid nitrogen. That’s right, the same stuff they use to freeze warts off.

The concept behind the dessert is that once eaten, the chewed food condenses moisture in an exhaled breath and gives the effect of smoke being blown out. Hence the name, ‘Dragon’s Breath’.

A dessert shop called Chocolate Chair trademarked “Dragon Breath” last year. Its shops are found in Nevada and California. The company’s website describes it as “a novelty dessert made of fruity cereal puffs soaked in liquid nitrogen.”

They claim to be the first inventor, though many copycats have popped up since its inception.

“Airy” foods, such as popcorn and marshmallows, can give the same effect as the cereal puffs soaked in the liquid nitrogen.

Since then, the dessert gained notoriety with fair-goers and street vendors across the country. Shops have been popping up, enticing those with a sweet tooth to try something different.
It certainly looks fun and differs from eating cereal in a bowl but a couple families have had close encounters with serious injury.

Liquid nitrogen can pose a harmful, if not fatal health consequences. Not only can it damage the skin if consumed improperly, if inhaled it can cause asphyxiation in a person (lack of oxygen).

This summer, Racheal Richard McKenny from Saint Augustine, Florida, took her son Johnny to a kiosk in Jacksonville where it served Dragon’s Breath dessert.

She let her children split an order on their way out of the mall. Not even 10 minutes into their ride home, Johnny started coughing persistently and having trouble breathing.

Without a hospital in close proximity, she stopped at a fire station where EMTs administered an IV, albuterol treatment, shot of epinephrine and a ride to the hospital.

McKenny said Johnny has asthma and an inhaler, but hardly has the need to use in. That is, until the liquid nitrogen triggered something fierce in his pulmonary system.

She said in a Facebook statement,

“PLEASE, if you know someone that has even just a mild case of asthma, do NOT let them have this snack.”

Last October, another child in Florida suffered a chemical burn from an order of Dragon’s Breath she had at the Pensacola Interstate Fair. She was taken to the emergency room with a burn to her thumb that could have resulted in a loss had her grandmother not acted quickly.

“The ER doctor had to cut it open, cut away the dead skin and get the infection out,” the grandmother, Tina McArthur, reported to WEAR TV station.

Randall Reese, a pediatrician with Pensacola Pediatrics, said ingesting liquid nitrogen or food can cause frostbite or cryogenic burns to the mouth. He recommends parents do not allow their children to consume the trendy treat.

But the manager at the booth in Pensacola had a different approach. They said it should be eaten with caution, similar to hot soup.

Some of the problem is related to residual liquid nitrogen does not dissipate or evaporate and is leftover in the container the dessert is sold in. If your fingers are used to remove it, that could cause a burn.

The dessert is to be eaten with a skewer or served on a skewer to avoid this problem to begin with.

The New York State Department of health issued a statement this summer saying, “Instances of frostbite and tissue damage have been reported caused by residual liquid nitrogen in the serving cup.”

As for McKenny, she warns parents to avoid making the same mistake as her, even though she only wanted her kids to have a fun experience.

“I should have known better,” she said. “But it did not occur to me that this food could have this effect. As a result, my son could have died. Please don’t make the same mistake I did.”