KATHERINE HOLMAN ’20
You think you have seen it all, from videos on the Internet of people coughing on a spoonful of cinnamon to burning themselves with salt and ice for the fun of it, but did you see this one coming? In December of 2017, a new trend arose: The Tide Pod Challenge. Yes, you read that correctly. The new challenge on social media and YouTube shows teenagers and young adults, who post videos of themselves, tasting and chewing the colorful jelly-like Tide Pods which are filled with laundry detergent, stain remover, and color protection. All the healthy essentials of what a person’s esophagus and digestive tract need.
The trend seemed to gain momentum after memes on social media depicted Tide Pods as appealing food and dared people to eat them. Tide Pods are very appealing in a visual sense and do smell sweet, but it is impossible to imagine digesting them. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that there have been 39 cases of teenagers ingesting Tide Pods in the first month of 2018. The company that created Tide and their infamous pods, Procter and Gamble, has come out with many statements warning children and parents of the dangerous side effects from ingesting a Tide Pod. These side effects include burning of the mouth and throat, unconsciousness, seizures, and death. Tide warns that if a Tide Pod is put in the mouth or ingested, poison control should be contacted immediately. Originally, these warnings were targeted towards parents with toddlers who could easily mistake the colorful pods as candy. Now the company has realized that the generation in charge of leading the world’s future might be at higher risk of consumption of laundry detergent than five-year-olds.
Tide addressed the problem in a video made with New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, in which he pleads people to stop eating Tide Pods. If “Gronk” is not doing it, we should not either. Parents, who may actually know everything, are saying that the “real” Tide Pod Challenge is having teenagers do their own laundry. Mothers used to put soap in their child’s mouth to punish them and now we are doing it for fun?
The challenge has gained tremendous attention in the media and news. The Washington Post reported on the dangers of teenagers chewing Tide Pods due to the toxic chemicals in them. The trend has led one grocery store that sells Tide Pods to lock them in secure plastic cabinets for monitored access, resulting in the new nickname for the pods: “forbidden fruit.” There are videos on Facebook mimicking the popular food account, Tasty, where they show viewers different “recipes” they can make, such as Tide popsicles and Tide pizzas. Jimmy Kimmel reported how fast food chains were capitalizing on the challenge by making products having to do with Tide Pods. A parody depicts Domino’s Pizza offering free delivery to the hospital after consuming their new Tide Pizza.
Like the Cinnamon Challenge, Salt and Ice Challenge, and many other fads that have caught the attention of daring YouTubers prowling for the next trend, people will hopefully realize that chewing on Tide Pods is not the best idea in the world. As the old saying goes, don’t bite off more than you can chew.