Bright Whites and Dark Humor: The Tide Pod Problem

Christina Salsberry, Editor

It started with a simple joke on the internet. Tide Pods were dubbed the “forbidden fruit”, as users pretended they would eat some, but never went through with the act… until the Tide Pod Challenge.

While Tide Pods hit the market in 2012, memes about eating them arrived on the internet almost two years later, according to Know Your Meme. The memes slowly grew in popularity as time went on, but they really took off this past December as Twitter found itself flooded with a surplus of the jokes. For example:

Many internet users have decided to take the joke a step further and actually bite into the pods. According to the Washington Post, there were 55 intentional cases of teens biting into the detergent packs last year, and 37 cases (with half being intentional) this year. According to USA Today, “swallowing even a small amount of the highly-concentrated detergent found in pods (which can happen if people bite it and spit contents out), can cause diarrhea and vomiting. In some cases, some of the detergent could even find its way into the lungs and cause breathing difficulties.”

Many cases of biting into the packs are recorded and posted to sites such as YouTube as a part of the “Tide Pod Challenge”. There have been hundreds of videos uploaded, and the number continues to rise each day.

In a recent statement, Procter & Gamble spokeswoman Petra Renck said, “Laundry pacs are made to clean clothes. They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance, even if meant as a joke. Like all household cleaning products, they must be used properly and stored safely.”

CBS has also claimed that there have been 10 reported deaths this year from eating the pods. They were not the deaths of teens, however, but rather the deaths of two toddlers and eight elderly people with dementia.

Stores such as Walmart have decided to lock up the pods in plastic containers. Despite all the precautions in stores, retailers still cannot change what happens within homes. Whether it be teens chowing down or toddlers taking a bite, incidents will still occur. Parents of young children should carefully consider purchasing the pods, and teens should come to the realization that eating detergent pods are no laughing matter. Actual human lives have been ended, all for eating a packet of laundry detergent. Is a meme worth your life?

If you or someone you know has been exposed to laundry detergent pods, call the national poison hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or text POISON to 797979 to save the number on your phone.