Blame the internet for this 'Tide Pod Challenge' madness

The first big meme of 2018 is eating Tide Pods. You know, those delicious looking bite-sized sacks of colorful detergent. But are people really eating soap? Of course not! But some of them kind of are…I’ll explain.

Memes by their nature grow and develop over time. In the about six years since Tide and other companies introduced laundry pods, the threat of people eating them was nominal. Sure, there’s always some danger of kids getting into the kitchen cabinets and ingesting the enticing chromatic chemicals and cleaners stored keep there. Same goes for the elderly with dementia.

Rationally, humans know not to eat something just because it looks like candy or smells like botanical rain. But there’s something odd at play deep within most people that makes us want to lick a scented marker, nibble a piece of Play-Doh, or try dog food. The Tide Pod meme plays into this tension and appeals to our lizard brains, making the pods appear like forbidden fruit, even though they’re actually out of bounds and definitely not edible or tasty like fruit.

What’s funny is that the pods look just good enough that even though they’re obviously not food, you just know they’d be delicious. An early article in The Onion pointed out how alluring the pods must be to toddlers, and College Humor produced a video sketch about how the pods are appealing period, not just for babies.

As the meme continues to grow in popularity, a few edgelords, YouTubers, and vloggers have actually taken a bite of a pod or two and confirmed that in fact it’s really not food. In the more than half a decade since Tide Pods have existed there were only like eleven deaths from people eating pods. That’s sad news, but not exactly cause for panic.

For years, incidents relating to detergent ingestion were pretty low, but in 2018 the numbers have spiked with nearly 100 hospitalizations in the first month of the year, but at least there haven’t been any more deaths. Thanks, internet!

Now that the media hysteria has come and basically gone, and Tide themselves enlisted New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski to issue a warning, it feels like the Tide Pods meme is running out of steam. That said, my 14 year old meme consultant predicts staying power, so who knows if these sweet little pods will be good for lulz for the coming months. Bone apple teeth!

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