In a world of dumb social media trends, we may have reached peak idiocy. Somehow the absurd and dangerous ‘Tide Pod Challenge’ has become a thing among teenagers, and is on the verge of going viral. The challenge involves filming yourself biting on one of the colorful laundry detergent pods, posting the video online, and daring friends to do the same. In the videos, teenagers are seen chewing on the pods, gagging, spitting up the colorful liquid, and sometimes even swallowing them.
The so called “delicious-looking” pods are very hazardous to human health, and doctors have had to issue warnings about the dangers of eating them. Any amount of liquid from the pod can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, burns, and in severe cases, death. The concentrated detergent contains highly toxic chemicals like ethanol, hydrogen peroxide and various polymers, none of which you want anywhere near your mouth, ever.
“They should not be played with. Even if meant as a joke. Safety is no laughing matter,” Tide said in a statement. “Our laundry pacs are a highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes, and they’re used safely in millions of households every day. They should be only used to clean clothes and kept up, closed and away from children.”
Despite these warnings, the craze only seems to be picking up momentum. We’re just two weeks into 2018, and already 40 cases of detergent ingestion have been reported by The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), half of which involved intentional ingestion.
“A lot of people were just saying how stupid I was or how – why would I be willing to do that,’ Marc Pagan, 19, told CBS News after he did the challenge on a dare. “No one should be putting anything like that in their mouths, you know?”
The trend is hard to trace but seems to have at least partially been kicked off by a 2015 parody article on the Onion written by a fictional child. Also, in 2017 the comedy web series College Humor posted a satirical video called Don’t Eat Laundry Pods showing a college student struggling with his temptation to eat the pods. After the video went viral, home videos of people eating the pods began to show up on Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there have been at least ten deaths linked to ingesting the pods. Eight of the deaths involved senior citizens with dementia, while the other two were young children. Hopefully, this absurd and dangerous trend will end before that list grows to include teenagers who should know better.