Free samples of bubble tea at Boba Suite on South Crouse Avenue yesterday have left one Syracuse University student seriously injured and others seriously confused.
Chris Rubenstein, a sophomore biology major, was taken to Upstate University Hospital at 5:45 p.m. and has been in a medically induced coma after nearly choking on tapioca pearls, police officials released in a statement last night.
“Like, it was so scary,” said Rubenstein’s girlfriend Jenny Greenberg, who was with him at the time of the incident. “One minute, he was trying some passion fruit smoothie with tapioca and the next, his entire face was purple.”
Rubenstein reportedly went to Boba Suite at the suggestion of his roommate, who informed him of the free samples that afternoon. Friends said Rubenstein was always an adventurous eater who had wanted to try the tapioca pearls for quite some time.
“Oh my God, he was so brave,” said Greenberg tearfully. “He eats Easy Mac with hot sauce and doesn’t even drink milk afterward. I thought he could handle this.”
Tapioca pearls, or “boba” as it is called by tapioca connoisseurs and Asians, are small balls made from sweet potato added to drinks for texture and for shooting out of abnormally large, colorful straws.
“They’re perfectly harmless,” said Boba Suite co-owner, Lang Lang. “They’re small balls!”
In light of last afternoon’s incident, however, some students are calling for disclaimers to be posted in the store.
“Give us some warnings, man!” said Joel Dogood, a junior who was at Boba Suite at the time of the incident. “I don’t want that shit in my mouth. I mean, what the fuck are they?”
SU Health Services shut Boba Suite down last night following Rubenstein’s hospitalization. The store will remain closed pending further investigation.