Fun to play with, not to eat

New craze where teens eat Tide Pods sweeps the internet

Stores have resorted to locking up laundry detergent pods, dubbed as the “forbidden fruit” by internet memes, after the Tide Pod challenge becomes increasingly popular in Youtube videos.

Stores have resorted to locking up laundry detergent pods, dubbed as the “forbidden fruit” by internet memes, after the Tide Pod challenge becomes increasingly popular in Youtube videos.

Jenna Engel, Asst. Features Editor

From taking spoonfuls of cinnamon like cough medicine to popping laundry detergent pods like pills, the internet has new crazes that teens turn to almost every year. Dubbed the “Tide Pod Challenge,” teens are consuming detergent pods for nothing more than views.

Life-threatening health complications can arise from the consumption of the detergent such as breathing issues, esophagus damage, internal burning due to chemicals in the detergent, blood pressure fluctuations, gastrointestinal issues and concerning neurological complications, including lack of consciousness.

Released in 2012, these pods were originally meant to make the task of doing laundry easier. Instead of directly measuring liquid detergent with the risk of spillage, the compact, easy-to-use detergent pods just get tossed directly into the load of laundry. Shortly after their release, poison control noticed a reported issue with children consuming the product.

The vibrant nature of the pods, ranging in colors from blue and green to orange and purple, can easily resemble sweets or candy to a young child. This still does not explain why teens, old enough to differentiate laundry detergent from a hand out on Halloween, are snacking on these pods without a second thought.

The Onion, which focuses on satirical pieces, published an article in December of 2015 about consuming Tide Pods, approximately two years before the trend surfaced on the internet. The piece, titled “So Help Me God, I’m Going To Eat One Of Those Multicolored Detergent Pods,” is told from the point of view of a toddler whose goal is to eat a Tide Pod when he is away from the watchful eyes of his parent.

A line from the article reads, “So with God as my witness, I swear to you: I’m going to find that container of multicolored pods, I’m going to take one out, I’m going to shove it in my mouth, and I’m going to chew it up and swallow it down, and nothing and no one is going to stand in my way.”

This was one of the first major public points of acknowledgement of consuming the detergent pods. In December of 2017, jokes revolving around the consumption of the pods became increasingly popular on sites such as Twitter and Tumblr, until their eventual cross with the trend of Youtube “challenge” videos became reality.

According to the Washington Post, 2017 proved to be the gateway year that the Tide Pod challenge was trending, with 220 cases of teenagers exposed to the detergent, 25 percent of which were reported as intentional. So far in 2018, 37 cases of teen exposure have been reported, with approximately half intentional.

Deaths have been numbered, with only eight reported since the release of the product in 2012, according to The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Tide’s parent company, Procter & Gamble, released a statement about the issue, saying that it is “deeply concerned about conversations related to intentional and improper use of liquid laundry pacs.”

A further statement from Procter & Gamble spokeswoman, Petra Renck, explains that Tide Pods should be treated like any other household cleaning product.

“They must be used properly and stored safely,” Renck said.

Tide has also released a short, 20 second YouTube video with New England Patriots tight end, Rob Gronkowski. The video opens with a screen that reads: “Hey Gronk, is eating Tide Pods EVER a good idea?”

After about five to 10 seconds of Gronkowski repeating the word no, he picks up a Tide Pod in front of a washer, and states, “What the heck is going on people? Use Tide Pods for washing, not eating.”

To start the safe means of storing the product, major retailers have been locking the bags of pods in stores. According to an article published by Mashable, a Procter & Gamble spokesperson said locking up Tide Pods was the stores’ choice: “Individual retailers decide how to shelve products, often making decisions on a store-by-store basis.”

The epidemic that is among teens is dangerous and unhealthy, but with the evolution of internet trends, it leaves one to ask, “What will teens do next?”