The internet is a lawless place where teens create their own stupid trends for the sake of cashing in on their 15 minutes of fame. Some of these "challenges" actually do some good for the world, like the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge. Others are just stupid -- I'm looking at you, Mannequin Challenge. And some of them, like the Cinnamon Challenge and the Ghost Pepper Challenge, can seriously backfire.
But the most recent trend makes those examples look like child's play in comparison. Now, teens are chomping down on Tide Pods, those concentrated little packets of detergent, and (plot twist) it's not turning out well for anyone involved.
The Tide Pod Challenge, as it has come to be known, started out innocently enough with some memes at the end of 2017. A Tumblr post from November of that year referred to detergent pods as "forbidden snacks" because they look so darn edible. Which, honestly, is a solid argument (they kinda look like Gushers).
The internet took this idea and ran with it, coming up with a whole bunch of spinoff memes referencing the edibility of Tide Pods. And they were genuinely funny. A bit of lowest-common-denominator humor, sure. But funny nonetheless. At this point, the "forbidden snacks" meme was still a niche joke and, as far as I know, nobody had actually tried to eat on of these.
But as it is often wont to do, the internet quickly mangled this meme and turned it into something legitimately dangerous. In the two weeks since 2018 started, poison control centers across the U.S. have seen a 20 percent uptick in calls regarding people eating detergent.
Despite the fact that teens are old enough to know better than to eat a plastic ball of soap, this hasn't stopped them. Videos keep going up on social media platforms featuring people willingly taking on the Tide Pod Challenge, before immediately regretting the decision when they have a mouthful of detergent seeping out from behind their lips. Yes, you can find these all over YouTube and Twitter. No, I'm not embedding one in this article because I don't want to give anyone stupid enough to try this challenge the satisfaction of more views.
The Tide Pod challenge has gotten to be such an issue that Tide is now working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to fix it. They're designing a new Tide Pod formula with a thicker shell that is harder to bite into, with less-concentrated detergent inside. Tide even went so far as to get their spokesperson, Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, to film a PSA telling teens to just say "NO" to eating Tide Pods.
So yeah. That's the history of the Tide Pod Challenge, from its humble Tumblr roots to the mess it is today. TL;DR a bunch of teens deemed competent enough to drive a car are somehow simultaneously not competent enough to know ingesting detergent is probably definitely bad for you.
2018 is weird, man. I miss the simpler times, when teens were just dabbing a lot and dancing to "Harlem Shake" while wearing weird horse masks.