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Lawmakers finally take action on the Tide Pod challenge.
In response to the alarming trend of teens intentionally ingesting Tide laundry detergent pods, New York state legislators have proposed a bill that would make the pods look less like delicious candy.
The legislation, sponsored by Democrats Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, would require detergent pods to be a “uniform color that is not attractive to children” and come in a wrapper “not easily permeated by a child’s bite,” the New York Post reported.
Tide has taken steps to prevent teens from doing the “Tide Pod challenge,” including taking down Tide Pod videos from YouTube, issuing warnings, and even launching a video PSA with NFL player Rob Gronkowski. The one step the company hasn’t taken is changing the design of the pods, a move consumer advocates have recommended for years.
Teens don’t really think Tide Pods are candy, but the obvious resemblance started a meme that has turned “eating Tide Pods” into the biggest internet joke of early 2018. More than 140 teens intentionally ingested Tide Pods in January, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Further, young children and adults with dementia have mistaken the laundry packets for treats. Six adults died from exposure to the pods between 2012 and 2017.
The legislators behind the New York bill have also addressed Tide parent firm Proctor & Gamble directly, sending a letter that reads, in part: “You and other manufacturers must use a stronger bittering agent to prevent ingestion of pods, reduce their pleasant smell, and make them feel more firm.”
All sound ideas, but Tide Pods have been around since 2012, and P&G has never moved to change the candy-colored swirl design. Just months after the product launched, the company had to add double latches to its containers in response to kids ingesting the pods. Later, it made the packaging opaque to prevent child from mistaking it for a candy dish. The pods inside, however, remained the same.
H/T The Hill
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.