It's 2018 and the world has gotten weird. You know those squishy little detergent pockets you use to do your laundry? Well, in recent trends, people have, apparently, been consuming them. Which begs the question, what happens if you eat a Tide Pod? I think you can imagine it's nothing pleasant.
By now you have probably heard of the "Tide Pod Challenge." Here's how it works: the person who (foolishly) decides to take part in this challenge must film themselves biting down on the packet. Then they can either swallow the contents or spit them out. This is where we are now, folks.
Dr. Diane Calello, the medical director at New Jersey Poison Information and Education System at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, explained to The New York Times what happens when you put Tide pods in your mouth, and the answer is basically nasty chemical burns. She said,
What we’ve seen is when children or adults bite into these things that moisture-sensitive membranes basically just disintegrates and the contents explode inside your mouth.
Calello explained that once the contents from the packet seep into the person's mouth the chemicals cause severe burns to the mouth and esophagus or respiratory tract. She also added that some children and older patients exhibited cognitive issues, and were rushed to the hospital or even died after ingesting the pods. A post on WebMD by Dr. Hansa Bhargava also notes that swallowing the detergent could lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
According to the Times, the pods hit shelves in 2012, and about a year later federal consumer officials put out a warning telling parents that young children find these pods appealing. It makes sense that very young children would see something small, squishy, and brightly colored and think, "Hey, that looks like a fancy marshmallow! Let me put it in my mouth!"
But teens are apparently ingesting these Tide pods completely aware of the fact that they were created to clean clothing and that they are super dangerous.
On Jan. 16, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) issued a warning asking people to stop swallowing Tide Pods. The report noted that as of Jan. 15, poison control had already responded to 39 cases involving teens ingesting Tide pods that year — barely two weeks into the year. Last year, they handled 53 similar cases in the entire year, according to the AAPCC.
Tide even had to put out their own public service announcement warning people.
It starred Rob Gronkowski, explaining how the pods should only be used for laundry and nothing else. And we thought that was obvious.
Challenges like these are not foreign to the internet. There's been the "Ice Bucket Challenge," where people would film themselves getting ice water dumped on them to promote awareness for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. More recently, there was the Paqui "One Chip Challenge," where you're entered to win a year supply of Paqui if you can consume one of their hot chips slathered in Carolina Reaper, the hottest pepper.
But the "Tide Pod Challenge" is a category all its own.
No one seems to know exactly how it got started, but the idea may have taken off after a satirical article was published by The Onion written from the perspective of a child determined to eat a Tide pod. The "child" writes,
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.
YouTube and Facebook decided to try and stop the spread of people consuming the Tide pods by removing all of the dangerous videos featuring people taking part in the challenge.
But of course Twitter did what it does and had lots of fun with all this ridiculousness.
I really would just like to know why this caught on. I use these pods every time I do laundry and it hasn't once occurred to me to eat one. Is this really what people will do just for some new followers? I don't understand. Listen everyone, maybe go grab a burger or something? See a movie? Get out of the house! Just stop eating Tide pods.