We probably all know by now that one of the telltale symptoms of coronavirus is a loss of smell and taste. But unless you’ve actually experienced this yourself, it’s probably difficult to fully comprehend. This may be why people are fascinated by Russell Donnelly, a 30-year-old bartender and aspiring actor from Jersey City who has been uploading videos to his TikTok account eating disgusting food to demonstrate his loss of taste due to COVID-19.
“I am currently COVID positive and I can’t taste anything,” Donnelly says in the first video, as he begins to peel a red onion. “Everybody keeps telling me to eat some nasty stuff but I don’t have any nasty stuff in my house so I figured I would just eat some stuff that would be strong or pungent, just to see what it’s like.”
And with that, Donnelly bit into the peeled onion like an apple. “Nothin’,” he deadpans, before downing a shot glass full of straight lemon juice and eating a spoonful of garlic paste. “This is a crazy virus,” he remarks.
In a followup video, Donnelly actually makes himself a doubled-stuffed wasabi Oreo cookie by disassembling the cookie halves and filling them with two generous squirts of the green stuff. Although he still couldn’t take the wasabi, he definitely felt it in his sinuses so at least something seems to be working!
In his most recent video, well—Donnelly eats a variety of disgustingly strong foods, from tinned sardines and anchovies to raw garlic and straight yellow mustard right out of the bottle. Though he may not be able to taste anything, one has to imagine that his GI system is at full-on war with the rest of his body.
“My only symptom is that I can’t taste or smell. Other than that, I’m 100%,” Donnelly said in an interview with BuzzFeed. “This second wave is no joke and I’m one of the lucky ones, to be honest.”
Also also remarked that he could feel the onion in his sinuses but otherwise nothing, and that the garlic paste was the easiest.
“I did lemon juice a couple of times actually and if I hold it in my mouth for an extended period of time, my mouth kinda shrivels up like it does when you taste something sour, but there is no flavor,” he said. “The body still reacts chemically. It’s just like the taste buds are turned off.”
Well, we wish Russell a speedy recovery, and hopefully, his tastebuds will come back sooner rather than later. Although, what fun would that be?