In the Fruit Snack Challenge, Parents Ask Their Kids to Wait to Eat Their Treat (And Then Leave the Room)

updated May 13, 2020
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Boys playing with candy at table
Credit: G&J Fey/Getty Images

Since the beginning of the shelter-at-home orders and recommendations, various “challenge” memes have made the rounds as people look for new ways to entertain themselves. These challenges are mostly in good fun — like making fine art out of household items. But this latest one from TikTok ropes in a new participant: your kids. 

In the Fruit Snack Challenge, a hashtag that already has three million views on TikTok, parents give their children a treat of some sort — fruit snacks, as the name implies, or in the case of Kylie Jenner, apparently custom oversized M&Ms. The parents then tell their kids that they can’t touch the treat until the parent returns. Then the parent leaves the room — camera still running — to see what the kid does. 

It’s the internet-era version of the marshmallow test, notes O Magazine in their piece covering the trend. The 1970’s experiment proposed to prove certain kids had the capacity to delay gratification and how that served them in life. The study claimed that those that could wait the 15 minutes to get more marshmallows instead of eating the ones in front of them immediately, ended up more successful and scored higher on standardized testing. However, what it doesn’t bring up is that the test was later shown to not actually prove anything except how well-off the kid’s family was. Kids from homes with the resources and economic stability to keep the pantry stocked tended to be more able to delay gratification. In other words, there might just be a reason that Kylie Jenner’s kid successfully waited for the chocolates and yours didn’t. 

So before you judge your kid or anyone else’s kid on whether or not they grab their treat when the parent told them to wait, just know that there might be a lot else going on behind their decision. Or better yet, just give your kid the treat and stop the torture before it starts! That’s at least what I plan on doing.