The Smoke Signal

Students Keep Clean Act, Avoid Tide Pod Challenge

Kevin Valdez, Journalist

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Tide

When Tide first introduced their laundry detergent Pods in 2012, nobody suspected it would become the subject of a bizarre and dangerous Internet trend.

The Tide Pod Challenge, which gained traction near the beginning of 2018, consists of teenagers biting into the Pods and disgustingly gagging on them, daring other people to do the same.

The pods look like tasty gummy candy at first sight because of their bright colors, but they’re made of multiple chemicals including polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), which dissolves as it makes contact with water while in the washing machine. The pod will also dissolve if it hits saliva in a human’s mouth.

In this February 12, 2018 photo, packages of Tide Pods are displayed on a store shelf at Dollar General in Ripon, California. The products are at the center of a viral trend where teenagers are putting them in their mouths for Internet fame.

 

Another chemical, 1.4 Dioxane, could cause lung and kidney damage when exposed, as well as eye and nose irritation. Consumer Reports notes that eating regular laundry detergent can result in upsetting your stomach, but with highly concentrated pods you could be vomiting excessively, suffering from lethargy, or even worse, experiencing a loss of breath according to some reported cases.

At least ten people have died as a result of eating detergent pods. They may also be a risk for young toddlers and

adults with dementia.

School nurse Melanie Balding said that nobody on campus has tried the Tide Pod Challenge.

“I think it’s not a good idea whatsoever,” she said. “It’s made for laundry, not for eating.”

Health teacher Erin Cutino also condemns the act of putting Tide Pods in your mouth, along with any other “challenge” that results in harming yourself in some way.

… do a 5k if you want a challenge.”

— Erin Cutino

“Maybe pick up a sport or maybe do a fun run or something like that;,” Cutino said. “Don’t eat a Tide Pod.”

“A lot of people were just saying how stupid I was or how – why would I be willing to do that?” Pagan said. “No one should be putting anything like that in their mouths, you know?”

According to Snopes.com, there have been examples of YouTube pranksters eating Tide Pods in videos dating back to 2014.Tide

It is widely disputed that the idea of eating Tide Pods originated in a joke article from The Onion, describing fictional thoughts from the view of a young child with a desire to consume them. Since then, the joke has spread all across social media with the pods being used as pizza toppings, as cereal mixed with bleach, and even edited images and videos that make it look like a cartoon character is eating them.

The trend became so popular that even Tide themselves posted a public service announcement video on Twitter and YouTube featuring New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski discouraging people from eating the pods with a definitive “No, no, no, no, no, no, no!”

“What the heck is going on, people?” Gronkowski said. “Use Tide Pods for washing, not eating. Do not eat.”

Tide and its parent company, Procter & Gamble, have taken several actions to make sure nobody else eats the pods. They have released a saying that the products “should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is, even if meant as a joke.” Their official Twitter account also encourages people who have said they’ve eaten Tide Pods to call their local poison control center.

Back in 2015, before the trend became popular, the pods were coated with a bitter-tasting film to drive kids away from the product. They also teamed up with Google and Facebook to take down videos relating to the challenge as part of promoting dangerous and harmful content. 

As of today, an alert from the American Association of Poison Control Centers says there have been 168 documented cases of intentional exposure to the pods so far this year.

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Students Keep Clean Act, Avoid Tide Pod Challenge