Late in the afternoon, after a grueling day of classes, I look through my kitchen for a snack. Nothing is appetizing, until I check the closet. Lo and behold, the delicious orange, blue, and white treat awaits me next to the dishwashing soap.
I grab a handful, closing my eyes as I bite-
Are you serious? No, I obviously don’t freaking eat Tide Pods. But by now, you’re probably all aware that some lunatics of our generation do.
That's right. People are eating Tide Pods.
I’d like to think that as humans, we are evolved enough to distinguish food from laundry supplies, no matter how pleasant the smell or aesthetically pleasing the shape. But it's 2018, so I guess anything is possible. Known as the “Tide Pod Challenge,” college kids are now consuming these soapy pacs in a craze similar to the once popular Cinnamon Challenge. Yet, there’s one stark difference here: Cinnamon is a food. Tide Pods are not.
I was doing laundry a few days ago and sniffed one of these pods. It was pleasant smelling enough, but I felt no visceral desire to put it in my mouth. Why, I asked myself, and how, could such a trend start?
It seems that the internet is to blame (and no one is surprised). Back in 2015, The Onion wrote an article from a toddler’s perspective, describing a child’s persistence in getting his hands on one of these technicolor gems to eat. But the crossover to college students eating the pods was likely inspired by a College Humor video posted earlier in 2017; the video depicts a college student unable to overcome his insatiable desire for the Gusher-like detergent snacks. The student eats the pods and ends up in an ambulance stretcher. Today, we all know the memes suggesting that Tide Pods are simply the perfect and most logical flavor addition to our favorite foods.
Not to put a damper on all the technicolor-detergent fun, but the American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that people who have eaten the pods have experienced vomiting, difficulty breathing, and loss of consciousness. Eight children have died since 2012 due to pod consumption. Tide’s parent company, Proctor & Gamble, has desperately been warning people not to ingest their laundry product. P&G tweeted, “What should Tide PODs be used for? DOING LAUNDRY. Nothing else.” The company went so far as to enlist New England Patriots tight end, Gronk, to urge people not to eat them in an informational video. Even if you're an Eagles fan, I'd hope you agree with his advice.
Despite all of the evidence, there are in fact those among us who threw caution to the wind. I was able to track down one Duke senior who was brave enough to take the Tide Pod Challenge. Don't worry, I asked the hard-hitting questions that we all want to know but don't have the balls to find out for ourselves:
What compelled you to eat the Tide Pod? Your friends? Just because...?
“There were two major factors influencing my decision to consume a Tide Pod: alcohol, and rush. Being severely intoxicated and wanting to impress some potential new members, I ate the pod to show off and illicit some laughs from my small audience.”
How exactly does one eat a Tide Pod? Do you chew it? Swallow it?
“I simply bit into the Tide Pod as if it were an apple, let the detergent sit in my mouth for a second, and swallowed an ounce of it.”
What did it taste like?
“The Pod, in every way, tasted like imminent death. It was like downing a bottle of soap, poisonous and unpleasant. I coughed most of it up almost immediately.”
How did you feel afterwards? Were you concerned for your health and/or well-being?
“Having been incredibly drunk to begin with, I spent almost the rest of the night puking up all the contents of my stomach. Honestly the best thing that could have happened. Definitely did not want to let the Tide Pod sit and burn my insides.”
What do you think about the whole craze in general? Should it be stopped, or are people worrying too much?
“This is really something that should be stopped. While only marginally funny, the ramifications can be life threatening. As far as I’m concerned, I’m lucky to be here, able to speak about the experience now.”
Take it from our survivor: it’s not worth it. "Do it for the Snap/Insta" can be very legitimate, sometimes; we're all guilty of it. But this fad goes a little too far. There might only be a few other Duke students out there who have also been tempted by this toxic, forbidden fruit. But for the ones that are thinking about it: I'm sure there are other stupid things you can do for laughs that don't send you to Poison Control.