Tide pod challenge finds some takers at Norwich: Tasty? Not exactly.

Noshing on the colorful little detergent packets on a dare has made a lot of people sick, including at Norwich.

For better or worse, Norwich students have taken up the Tide pod challenge.
Insanity or typical college caper? Depends who you talk to.
“It’s another one of those challenges you see on social media, except this one is pretty life-threatening. I don’t know where it came from but as soon as we hit the new year, it came out of nowhere,” said Jerrel Garey, 19, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Methuen, Mass.
Another sophomore, Michael Agnes, 20, a history major from Jefferson N.J., is incredulous that anyone would eat or swallow the small Tide laundry detergent packs.
“It’s a ridiculous challenge that should have never started, and it’s ridiculous that it’s still going on after a few weeks. You still hear cases about children and even adults who go to hospitals or near death because they ate a Tide pod,” he said.
Steve is a Norwich student who has tried a Tide Pod, and wants to remain anonymous about his escapade.  “It’s a new year, so a new challenge arose, is how I thought about it, it’s something interesting and new.”

Firimo Chavez, 21, a senior criminal justice major from Boston, Mass., is firmly in the camp of those who think it’s a crazy stunt.
“It’s laundry detergent pods that are meant for laundry, not to be eaten, so I don’t understand why people do stupid things,” he said.
In fact, numerous articles have detailed the dangers of biting into a pod, from burns of the mouth and esophagus to ending up in a hospital emergency room (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/20/us/tide-pod-challenge.html).
“This challenge really ruins a person’s body, I knew someone who did it here at Norwich and back home, both of them got really sick,” said a student at Norwich who didn’t want to be named.
“The challenge originated from a few posts or videos that got really big in a short amount of time on social media sites,” said Garey, who noted the first videos and posts were all just jokes. A video from a college humor site called Don’t Eat the Laundry Pods blew up reaching around two million views towards the end of last year and spread the idea on social media and Twitter.
Steve said that was how he got the idea. “I saw the posts on there about people joking with the Tide pods and labeling it as the forbidden fruit, and how appealing they look, some people even jokingly message companies to include different flavors,” he said.
“Well, I did it for the jokes of it to be fair, I can’t really say I regret it,” Steve said, “it was funny to do for everyone, sure I felt awful after, but hey, live a little.”
To Garey, the stunt is something done for publicity. “People do these types of challenges for attention, to be honest with you. I don’t know any sane person who would be willing to risk their life for some views on social media,” he said.
Ever since the pods came out, the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been tagging Tide pods as a health risk citing more than 7,000 cases of exposure to the pods.
Students who have heard of the stunt know it isn’t a healthy idea. Agnes said he read that people have thrown up from doing the challenges, they felt numbness and sometimes can’t breathe or dry heave for a long time. The chemicals in the detergent can damage your organs and cause some serious problems for your body, whether it’s long term or not, Agnes said he wasn’t sure.
Steve admits it wasn’t a pleasant experience. “When I did it I threw up a lot and it just felt awful, I somehow avoided the hospital which I think is lucky, definitely better than some of the other stories I have heard,” said Steve.
“My friends threw up everywhere honestly, one passed out, the other was hospitalized for a little bit. They regretted it afterwards, but their families are the ones who were the most upset. Imagine getting a call hearing that your child is in a hospital because they ate a detergent pod,” said Susie, another student who didn’t want her real name used.
“I’ve only seen videos of people doing it here at Norwich, even then it’s been only a few, still too much for how many people we have here,” noted Garey.
“When I asked my friends (why the did it), all they said was for the fun of it with friends, or that they were making intoxicated decisions for videos. It’s stupid if you ask me. I would never do it or have a Tide pod near my mouth,” Susie said.
Agnes said since people were doing it all around the United States, “I wasn’t surprised to see it here at Norwich, you see it on the SMC snapchats every now and then or just people talking about it.”
“As far as I know I have been the only one from my group of friends to do it,” said Steve. “I won’t be surprised if more people from Norwich do it, it’s a trend and like every other one it’s going to happen.”
Chavez observed that Norwich cadets are known to do just about anything for entertainment, so “it’s no surprise honestly to see us do this challenge even here on campus.
But Garey was on the opinion the craze would fade quickly. “I don’t think this challenge will stick around for much longer, hopefully it dies out like all the other weird things people do for views and short fame,” he said.
As for Steve, he is ready to move on to some other less distasteful stunt. “It was fun while it’s around, it’s always funny to see other people doing it in creative ways but it’s boring after a while like every other challenge,” Steve said. “I’m ready for the next one – hopefully it won’t be as life threatening.”

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