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Everyone keeps eating laundry pods - here's why

Welcome to the Tide Pod Challenge

Everyone keeps eating laundry pods - here's why
Tom Victor
16 January 2018

Have you ever started doing your laundry, taken one of the pods out of the pack, looked at it and thought ‘damn that looks tasty’?

Have you ever considered, instead of sticking the thing in the washing machine, biting into it and gorging yourself on that vivid blue goop, just a thin bit of see-through plastic away?

Have you looked at the recommendations that it’s not for human consumption, but decided that’s exactly what someone who wanted to keep all the delicious laundry pods for themselves would say?

Well, have you?

If you answered ‘yes’, ‘sure, maybe one time’, or anything other than ‘what the hell are you talking about?’, you’re not alone. In fact, the extent to which you’re not alone might be far greater than you realised.

You might have heard of the Tide Pod Challenge.

If you didn’t know what it was before, the sentences above have probably given you a clue. It involves chowing down on a laundry pod – that’s pretty much it.

The challenge has been taken up by countless people, mostly teenagers, after originating in the United States, prompting the country’s Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue an official warning.

“Children have required hospitalization from ingesting the product due to loss of consciousness, excessive vomiting, drowsiness, throat swelling, and difficulty breathing (requiring intubation),” it reads.

Tide parent company Procter & Gamble also issued a statement on the matter, explaining: “[The pods] should be only used to clean clothes and kept up, closed and away from children. They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is, even if it is meant as a joke.”

Basically, you shouldn’t eat the poisonous liquid.

Has that stopped people? What do you think?

We’ve been trying to figure out why something so obviously inedible seems to tantalising, and it feels like there are a few factors at play.

The colour scheme might factor in, with the electric blue associated with artificial blue raspberry flavourings and certain gummy sweets – i.e. the foods grown-ups don’t want you to eat (because they’re hella unhealthy) but which taste delicious (because they’re hella unhealthy).

The texture may play a part too, with the imagined sensation of biting into one making up for any perceived horrible taste of soap.

Perhaps the brain makes the association and the ‘mmm…blue candy’ part overrides the ‘this looks poisonous’ part.

Perhaps folks have done a complete 180, looked at all the fake news being spread, and decided “maybe they were lying to us about poison being bad, too”.

Or, alternatively, people like dicking about and impressionable viewers were tricked into attaching legitimacy to something that never claimed to have it.

Maybe we’ll never know for sure.

(Images: iStock/Pixabay)