Over the last few weeks, the “Tide Pod Challenge” has been plastered all over the internet. The challenge is simple: Eat a packet of laundry detergent, preferably in front of a wide internet audience.

Unsurprisingly, a not-insignificant number of intrepid youths have answered the call. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the first 15 days of 2018 have handled no fewer than 39 reported cases of intentional “exposures” (most were ingestion) to Tide Pods from 13- to 19-year-olds. Any number more than zero of people willingly eating laundry detergent should qualify as shocking, and 39 certainly counts.

So, why are teens eating Tide Pods?. The short answer: because the internet. It’s 2018 and culture moves downstream from memes, and by the transitive property of meme quality, they now determine what teenagers are going to ingest.

The Tide Pod Origin Story

This all seemed to start back in December of 2017 with a tweet from @nightfilm, who tried to persuade Gushers to make a new fruit snack that looked like a laundry pod.

The tweet went viral, and the internet did what the internet does. Legions of meme-makers started creating memes about the allure of Tie Pods, often referring to them as “forbidden fruit.”

Some found the pull of prohibition too strong. People started posting videos of themselves eating the suddenly desirable cleaning products. At least 39 of them got sick and called a poison control center.

Maybe they did it for the lulz. Maybe they wanted attention. Or maybe they just wanted to watch the world burn.

As it turns out, people have been wanting to eat Tide laundry detergent pods for a while, because they look like Gushers. It was only a matter of time before the entire internet caught on.

It’s Officially Become a Public Health Hazard

The American Association of Poison Control Centers strongly warns against eating laundry detergent, and so does everyone else (including Tide’s official Twitter account).

Tide Pods, Launry, Teens, Memes
Tide counsels people who claimed to have eaten Tide Pods.

The temptation to indulge may be strong, but don’t let the tide suck you in.

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