What happens when you mix the internet, the neo-dadaist humor shared by Millennials and Generation Z, social media, YouTube's "challenge" culture, and millions of years of evolutionary instinct?
Well, you get teenagers recording videos of themselves eating Tide detergent pods.
As you'll see in the video below, this unbelievable (and very inadvisable!) stunt is the latest "challenge" video that's taking the internet by storm. Oh, dear.
So, you know when you were a kid — and, honestly, now — and some things looked like food and, on some primal level, you felt the impulse to try to eat it?
Recently, people on social media have been talking about detergent pods and other "forbidden snacks."
From little colorful bouncy balls to salt lamps to translucent dice to detergent pods, there are certain small items that we have to resist the impulse to devour.
Why? Because our instincts — we're talking, like, lizard brain instincts — see a small, colorful object that might be partially see-through, and it registers as fruit.
Not just fruit, but some sort of nutrient-rich morsel full of flavor, vitamins, and simple carbohydrates that our bodies need to survive.
So people have joked about "forbidden snacks." Memes were born.
Unfortunately, while the vast majority of people talking about these detergent pods were just remarking on the absurdity of their impulse to eat them, well …
Some people have been taking things a step further by recording themselves putting a detergent pod in their mouths.
They took a perfectly good, almost wholesome, meme, and turned it into one of those stupid "challenges" that could easily poison someone.
As the Taylor Swift song says, "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things."
Now, some of these "challenge" videos are funny. Genuinely, truly funny.
Artistically created, they're even set to music.
Many of them use tricks, via editing or camera movements, in order to simply make it appear that someone has eaten one of these "tasty" pods.
They are made of extremely concentrated soap, folks. They do not taste good. When eaten, they are also super, super bad for you.
Some of these videos are, again, illusions.
In fact, some videos include artificial detergent pods, made of safely edible things like candy and jello, which reminds me of that game show where people bite onto everyday objects in a room in order to discover which are chocolate.
(You can view an edible Tide Pod recipe here)
But we're sad to say that at least some of these videos are for real.
Many companies make detergent pods, for the dishwasher or the washing machine.
Tide pods, for whatever reason, have been singled out by the meme and particularly by the people taking the "Tide pod challenge."
We can only imagine what a PR nightmare this must be for all of the people working at Tide, who must either be scratching their heads or screaming as they see their cleaning products ingested all across the internet.
In fact, Tide actually put out a statement:
"Our laundry pacs are a highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes, and they're used safely in millions of households every day. They should be only used to clean clothes and kept up, closed and away from children."
Their statement continues:
"We have seen no indication of an increase of cases seeking medical treatment amongst infants and teenagers associated with the recent uptick in social media conversation or in consumer calls."
So, that's good, at least.
We should note that the reason that detergent pods in general are so colorful is because that appeals to our instincts. (That's why products and packaging, in general, look colorful)
We don't think that it's Tide's fault, or any other company's, that some people make terrible choices because they want their videos to get views.