A report published this week in the Journal of Emergency Medicine (via Consumerist) relates the less-than-uplifting tale of an unidentified UVA student who drank a quart of soy sauce back in 2011 and started twitching. Two hours later, twitches led to seizures, one thing lead to another, and, well, the kid went into a coma. For three days. In the end, doctors saved his life and his brain by pumping him full of six liters of sugar water. This would be the part where we'd joke about how all the teen had was an unshakeable craving for dim sum as soon as he woke up, but it turns out there's a whole would-be suicide cult of soy-sauce drinkers out there, and it turns out that joke isn't funny anymore.
The young man from the Journal of Emergency Medicine study may be this kid, who reportedly went full Kikkoman as part of an initiation ceremony." In any event, he's not a soy-sauce loner. There are others just like him out there.
In 2008, a former radio producer drank a pint of garlic soy on a $20 bet:
There's this guy, who took the minibar approach with a few bottles:
This guy decided to commemorate the start of basic training with a bottle of Kikkoman:
And this guy has a sloppy approach:
There are a lot more videos out there with the exact same premise. Some are made by children. A lot of them were made by schoolgirls and are overproduced. One allegedly features a 6-year-old and an offscreen, suspiciously parental and adult-sounding narrator.
While there may be no good reason for this subculture to exist, facts pertaining to its anthropological identity emerge: Pretty much every would-be soy-sauce champion falters, which is likely part of the appeal for future challengers. People from around the world have taken the soy-sauce challenge, which is saltier than the Pepsi Challenge. It's seems that one can append the word challenge to any food or beverage and turn it into a stunt and viral-video phenomenon, but that's about the extent of our insight into this situation. Also, be warned: Any of your friends or anyone who makes you drink soy sauce is really not your friend, even when it's your mom who's telling you to chug.
Survival of Acute Hypernatremia Due to Massive Soy Sauce Ingestion [Journal of Emergency Medicine via Consumerist]