Poison By the Pod


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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48 Responses

  1. fillyjonk fillyjonk says:

    I don’t know why no one has suggested the solution of putting Bitrex (denatonium benzoate) in the gelatin (? whatever that dissolvable stuff is on the outside) coating of these things. If it is genuinely true (which I am not sure about) that most of the people eating these things are teenagers looking for their 15 minutes of fame, that would make more sense than making the things look “less appetizing.”

    (I saw a statistic that said that most of the hospitalizations were for v. small children and seriously impaired – as in dementia – adults, but the press is playing up “Oh the teens are doing this for the lulz”)

    At any rate. Denatonium chloride would work. It worked for the Nintendo Switch cartridges. And I can vouch for its sheer nastiness: I used nail-polish remover (which has it added) to clean something, didn’t wash my hands QUITE hard enough, and about 30 minutes later tried to floss my teeth. I was still spitting into the sink and rinsing my mouth out 15 minutes later. The horrible taste really stays with you and would be a deterrent to anyone, I think, with any kind of ability to detect “bitter”

    I’m sure the next step will to be get these things (and the dishwasher pods, which I do use) banned, and then I’ll be back to wrestling big boxes of Cascade and spilling lots of it on the floor.

    (I wonder why we haven’t heard of dishwasher-detergent poisonings? They’re in pod form and some of them are colorful….)Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to fillyjonk says:

      We probably under-utilize stuff like bitrex to protect against accidental poisoning. It’s nasty stuff, and the reaction to it is akin to tear gas, you can’t help but have a physical reaction to expel the item*.

      *as with all such things, a person can develop a tolerance to it, but like tear gas or pepper spray, you have to willingly expose yourself repeatedly.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to fillyjonk says:

      (I wonder why we haven’t heard of dishwasher-detergent poisonings? They’re in pod form and some of them are colorful….)

      The brand we use says “fresh scent” on the outside, but in fact have a very pronounced odor of soap. Very pronounced. Exaggerated by having to store them in a relatively air-tight container to keep the flexible plastic pod from breaking down from humidity before you get them to the dishwasher.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Supposedly some pets have gotten into the dishwasher pods (or so I vaguely recall reading), but they do have an incredible odor of…dish soap to them.

        Ours are in a self-sealing box in a closed cupboard, and the dog has never shown much interest in it.Report

      • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Fair point. The ones I buy vary in intensity of scent. I generally buy the lemon-scented kind, but they still smell like soap and lemon, not delicious lemon candy.

        Do Tide Pods not have a soapy odor? I use the liquid (unscented and dye free, because I have “special” skin) Tide, so I am not familiar with the pod form.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to fillyjonk says:

      If you coated your laundry pods with that stuff, wouldn’t it then just coat your freshly cleaned laundry with it?Report

  2. Avatar Damon says:

    Oh dear Jeebus…

    “According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there have been over 80 cases of intentional misuse of Tide Pods” Note the key word INTENTIONAL. Please explain why I should have my tax money spent on making a law to address human stupidity? No one was killed, and even if they had been, Tide ain’t at fault.

    I subscribe to Consumer Reports and had a report on children (younger than teenagers) and the very old who had accidentally eaten the pods. The death toll, IIRC was in the low double digits…like 30. This is not a dangerous product, and any dumb ass who decides to intentionally eat it (you’ll note they ain’t swallowing the contents) gets no sympathy from me.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Damon says:

      This. We should not be expending such effort protecting people (who should know better) from their own stupidity. Darwin is probably weeping over how we are selecting for young adults incapable of exhibiting a modicrum of judgement when it comes to self preservation.

      And yes, I know all about how teen brains are bad at this and all. We don’t need to be making it worse by encouraging the ones that are phenomenally bad at it.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Those “teen brains” were working in the fields, marrying, and killing each other on battle fields until recently. Fully developed brain or not, I’m not worried much about them.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Damon says:

          I agree. The idea that the recklessness of youth can be legislated away is naive and pernicious. I’m completely comfortable with the fact that somewhere out there, someone is eating a tide pod (no sarcasm intended). People really need to calm down.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Damon says:

          The fact that teen brains were underdeveloped is precisely why they were working in the fields, marrying and killing each other.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            If the teen brain is developed enough to understand a Mr. Yuck sticker, it is developed enough to not eat Tide Pods.

            I can understand why teens would be bad at understanding things like drug overdoses and alcohol poisoning, but things like soap and urinal cakes… if you can’t understand why such things should not be in your mouth, perhaps you should not be allowed to go about unsupervised.Report

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        A lot of the adults who’ve eaten Tide pods haven’t been teenagers who are dumb, but are adults with dementia.Report

  3. Avatar PD Shaw says:

    Isn’t the market issue that detergent pods are luxury goods, in that they provide no measurable value over conventional alternatives, except convenience, while costing twice as much? Those kinds of products need attractive designs to fit their niche.Report

    • Avatar Trumwill in reply to PD Shaw says:

      The convenience factor increases exponentially if you are at a laundromat, though.Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to Trumwill says:

        Exactly. Until last year my wife and I lived in an older apartment with no washer in the unit. When youre lugging baskets down to the basement the pods are a lot easier than the jugs.Report

        • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to InMD says:

          I don’t know if this is where I say back in the old days I would carry a bottle of Tide to the basement and I loved every minute of it, or just concede that convenience is a real value.

          I do still think aesthetics are an important part of selling costlier products. I’ve also observed todlers chewing on all kinds of things.Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to PD Shaw says:

            No disagreement. I’m sure they’d sell fewer if the pods resembled dog turds or something. Though that might make it even funnier to watch people eat them.Report

            • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to InMD says:

              Maybe I’m twisted, but if the laundry pods looked like dog poo, I’d be more likely to buy them and use them (for their intended purpose).

              there is a part of me that is eternally 12 years old and the thought of “gotta toss a ‘log’ in the washer” cracks me up.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to fillyjonk says:

                I’m glad you added ‘for their intended purpose.’ You had me worried there for a second.Report

              • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to fillyjonk says:

                One thing I wonder is how important the appearance is to toddlers. A year or two ago I attended a lead-poisoning seminar where the head of the relevant state agency said that every time they’ve been called to intervene due to high levels of lead in the blood, the situation has been remediated by identifying the paint source and usually it is obvious, by which I understood it to mean that they find teeth mark on window sills. I don’t think they were chewing on them because they looked like toys; they enjoyed the tactile sensations.

                I don’t know that I’ve felt a pod, but they seem like they might have the same feel as gel-filled teething rings.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to PD Shaw says:

                You should be child proofing your house anyways, if you have toddlers or infants.

                They shouldn’t be able to get to detergent or other cleaning products in the first place.

                This seems like a place where, frankly, Tide shouldn’t have any liability. They’re laundry pods. They’re clearly labeled. People are either eating them deliberately or they’re being left out where toddlers can eat them, which is no different than a toddler getting into one of a zillion other things.

                Either way, what’s Tide supposed to do? Further baby proof laundry pods that shouldn’t be anywhere near infants in the first place? They already come in containers that are pretty toddler-proof.

                it’s not quite “Why isn’t this lawnmower so safe I can run over an infant with it?” level, but there’s a certain amount of “Dear god, toddler-proof your house” here.

                I’m pretty honestly feeling this is less on Tide, and more on idiots. Either idiot parents who decided to leave out laundry pods rather than putting them away properly, or idiot teenagers who decided to eat laundry detergent on purpose.Report

              • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to PD Shaw says:

                I have been told (but value my brain cells too much to test it out) that lead paint chips have a sweet taste, and maybe that’s why kids keep eating them once they get a taste?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to fillyjonk says:

                Lead acetate was once called Sugar of Lead.Report

              • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                And I thought you were joking, but apparently Beethoven might have died from wine adulterated with it.Report

              • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to fillyjonk says:

                I interviewed a previous head of that agency about 20 years ago and he definitely said that the lead-based paint has a taste attractive to children. He may have described it as having a “zing”?Report

              • Avatar Maribou in reply to PD Shaw says:

                As a former child who has tasted lead-based paint (yeah yeah it explains so much), I think that “zing” is an excellent word for the taste.

                I didn’t do any more than taste it that one time – I and a bunch of other neighborhood children had heard it was STRICTLY NOT ALLOWED to eat paint that was flaking off one of our houses, because it was POISON, and as such we were just dying of curiosity about the whole thing. Turns out we could see the appeal (but we also believed our parents enough to not make a habit of eating it). Guess we were… about seven? early 80s. long enough after the ban that we didn’t really know about it until someone’s house started flaking and our parents freaked out and forgot how well reverse psychology works on 7 year olds.Report

          • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to PD Shaw says:

            Back when I did laundromat runs, I also remember they had vending machines for tiny boxes of laundry soap (usually not anyone’s preferred brand). I think you paid a premium for those, sort of a fee for being forgetful and leaving your own soap at home.

            I dunno. In a world of gold-plated toilets, I’m not going to begrudge anyone the convenience of spending a bit more for laundry pods. (I do it for dishwasher detergent, because I never could fill the soap container with powder without getting it all over)Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to fillyjonk says:

              I do it for dishwasher detergent, because I never could fill the soap container with powder without getting it all over

              …powder? You know that dishwasher detergent also comes in liquid form, right? (I actually had to sit and try to remember when I last saw powder.)

              Looking at the stats, apparently 70% sold is tabs, 20% is gel, and 10% is powder. (I am unsure if gel tabs were counted as tabs or liquid.)

              Incidentally, technically speaking, solid tabs or powder are better at cleaning than gel, in that they can have bleach in them. Detergents can’t contain both bleach and enzymes in liquid form.

              OTOH…most modern dishwashers are so overpowered it doesn’t really matter.Report

              • Avatar Lyle in reply to DavidTC says:

                Actually any liquid detergent means you are paying for shipping water around. Compare the weight of a liquid detergent for a load with that of powder and you see the difference.Report

      • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Trumwill says:

        Ah, good point.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    How many people try to eat tod pods?Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The one where the guy slid into Fruit Gushers’ DMs still gives me a chuckle.

    But remember the cinnamon challenge from a couple years back?
    Smoking smarties?

    The problem with the Tide Pod thing is that it’s so stupid that it heightens the contradictions to the point where it’s funny to make Tide Pod jokes just to see people scream about Tide Pods and it’s funny to see the government get involved with Tide Pods and to see Target restricting purchase to people 18 and older and to see people get stupider and stupider and stupider.

    Let’s get a senator in his 70’s standing on the Senate Floor giving a speech about the menace of Tide Pods.Report

  6. Avatar CJColucci says:

    I never knew eating Tide pods was a thing. Leave and learn. In the absence of statistics about people eating Tide pods while thinking they are something else, I have no opinion about the need for or possible efficacy of a ban on “attractive” Tide pods. I am pretty confident, though, that it’s a small-change issue either way, and not something any sane person should spend much brain power or outrage on.Report

  7. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I suspect Jaybird is right here. There is a large amount of trolling videos to see how government and/or corporate reacts to videos of people seemingly eating Tide Pods. The other cases from what I’ve read are children under 5 or adults with cognitive decline diseases.Report