Since the beginning of this year, Tide Pods have made a splash in various forms of media because of the “Tide Pod Challenge.” In February 2012, Procter and Gamble, a multi-national consumer goods corporation, introduced Tide Pod laundry detergent packets. Since its release, consumer reports show that there were increased calls to poison control centers due to children consuming the products after mistaking the colorful packets for candy.

The candy-like appearance of these detergent packets earned them the title of a “Forbidden Snack” on the internet. Forbidden Snacks are a slang term given to objects that at first glance appear to be edible treats, but are in reality hazardous to consume. The title was initially only used to describe Tide Pods, but has since expanded to include products such as bath bombs, bouncy balls, Dungeons and Dragons dice, DS styluses, glass pebbles, Himalayan Salt Lamps, molten lava, and pencil grips.  The list of these items seems to expand daily.

The so-called Tide Pod Challenge refers to a dare game involving the consumption of Tide detergent capsules, which are often compared to various fruit-flavored snack foods due to their packaging and appearance. The earliest notable iteration of the Tide Pod Challenge was posted to YouTube on January 7th, 2018 by user The AaronSwan669. Although he only pretended to eat a capsule, his video prompted various other YouTubers to actually ingest the packets. In the first few weeks of 2018 alone, there were over thirty-seven cases of teenagers becoming sick after participating in the challenge.

Procter & Gamble spokeswoman Petra Renck said in a statement, “Laundry packs 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.” To stop the spread of the challenge, Tide released a video on January 12th featuring NFL Star Rob Gronkowski, warning people not to eat Tide Pods. Despite this, people continued with the challenge, forcing stores including Ralph’s, Walgreens, and Walmart to begin to lock up Tide Pods for purchase, requiring a store employee to retrieve them for customers.

Other companies elected to ride the wave of popularity of Tide Pods by creating visually identical, safely consumable alternatives to the toxic forbidden snack. Privately owned restaurants have created Tide Pod-themed foods. Hurts Donut in Springfield, Missouri has recently introduced a Tide Pod Donut to its menu, and a new Tide Pod Pizza was added to the menu at Vinnie’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn, New York.

In the event that you happen to ingest a Tide detergent pod, contact your physician or local poison control center immediately, but we also urge you to strongly resist the urge to take a bite out of the toxic capsules.  They are NOT safe for consumption.

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