What’s the Deal with Tide Pods?

Some+bakeries+have+taken+advantage+of+the+challenge+to+create+Tide+Pod+themed+pastries+%28Daily+Nebraskan%29
Some bakeries have taken advantage of the challenge to create Tide Pod themed pastries (Daily Nebraskan)

Some bakeries have taken advantage of the challenge to create Tide Pod themed pastries (Daily Nebraskan)

Some bakeries have taken advantage of the challenge to create Tide Pod themed pastries (Daily Nebraskan)

Stephanie Robinson, Contributing Writer

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There exists a few products that almost all college students and modern consumers can recognize; ramen noodles, mattress toppers, a half-used bottle of shampoo, and, the most colorful, Tide Pods.

Recently, Tide Pods have been making headlines with the ‘Tide Pod Challenge,” which dares teens to bite or even consume the laundry detergent. The challenge may appear completely random and without basis, but it actually stems from an internet meme.

Ask any teenager to name a meme, and most could immediately rattle off a few. Ask any of these teenagers to explain exactly what a meme is, and the response could be long-winded, confusing, or just uninformative.

Memes have long since evolved from a simple photo with a caption. They have taken on a new life of their own. They characterize an important part of internet culture, and are described by Lifewire as a “virally-transmitted cultural symbol or social idea.”

The Tide Pod Challenge originated from a meme referred to as “forbidden snacks.” In this meme, social media users post pictures of inedible items that appear appetizing, such as bouncy balls (forbidden gumdrops), windshield wiper fluid (forbidden nectar), and laundry detergent pods (forbidden fruit).

While for most this meme remained a joke, some took it further and began eating this “forbidden fruit” and posting pictures or videos of doing so online, encouraging other to do the same. However, this challenge comes with serious risks.

In 2013, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warned that laundry detergent pods are highly concentrated and toxic. According to ABC, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry warns that ingesting Tide Pods can cause many serious complications, including kidney problems, eye and nose irritation, and possible long term lung damage.

Thankfully, HHS students seem to understand the dangers. Senior Mary Kate Hurley said “It [The Tide Pod challenge] is stupid.”

Other students shared her sentiment. Junior Grace Gruber said, “Tide Pods are liquid poison.” Students seemed to believe that Tide Pods should stay an internet joke, and remain in the laundry room.

However, some students also understood the lure behind the detergent pods. Freshman Rosie Collins explained,  “I mean, I might want to eat them, but I’d never put that nasty thing in my mouth.”

Part of what makes the Pods so “appetizing” is their bright, candy-like colors, and small shape. Initially, this proved a danger to small children.

According to ABC News, in 2015, Tide redesigned tide pod packaging, launched a media campaign, and began coating the pods with a bitter tasting agent after reports of infants eating the pods.

While effective, the campaign was aimed at children under 5. Teenagers certainly should not need someone to tell them not to eat laundry detergent. Yet, everyday more try the challenge, putting themselves in danger.

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What’s the Deal with Tide Pods?