You know a meme has gone too far when people start sharing images of Tide Pods locked up at their local store.
Several retailers including Walmart, Walgreens, Ralph’s, and Food 4 Less have locked up Tide Pods in plastic blocks or behind glass doors, according to recent social media reports. The protective measure was noticed as the Tide Pods internet challenge and meme hit peak stupidity.
While several people shared stories of the cleaning product being trapped in their grocery store’s version of a laundry aisle hoosegow on Monday, social media reports of such punishment stretch back to the beginning of January.
A manager at the Houston, Texas Walgreens pictured in the above tweet said over the phone that the Pods were secured in plastic boxes due to recent thefts. Other retailers, like Walmart and Kroger, also noted that thefts forced them to lock up the Tide Pods, but they did so prior to the internet hysteria.
Tide Pods have caused a frenzy in recent weeks as teens dare each other to eat the toxic-filled plastic that looks like a colorful gusher. The pods have been dubbed “forbidden snacks” or “forbidden fruit” and videos of teens frying the soap-filled pouches or eating them raw have been circulating on YouTube and social media for weeks. Someone even made edible sushi shaped like the pods.
It’s gotten so bad that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the same government agency that recalled those fiery hoverboards, is pleading with the public to not eat laundry pods.
Eating the detergent can cause vomiting, loss of consciousness, cardiac arrest, and other very bad things. Tide Pods have been a concern for years, with parents being warned to keep the product out of reach of children who may mistake the poisonous cleaner for candy. But now people are willfully eating the packaged toxic goop. At least 10 deaths have been linked to detergent pods, according to CBS. Procter & Gamble, the makers of Tide, has warned against eating the pods since the government agency sounded the alarm. “They should not be played with,” the Tide manufacturer said in a statement to CBS. “Even if meant as a joke. Safety is no laughing matter.”
Tide has even been running a PSA on social media featuring Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski sternly wagging his finger when asked if Tide Pods are OK to eat.
Here are some more witness accounts of the detergent prisons:
Update Jan. 15, 2018 at 9:20 p.m. PT:
A Procter & Gamble spokesperson said locking up Tide Pods was the stores’ choice: “Individual retailers decide how to shelve products, often making decisions on a store-by-store basis,” the spokesperson said in an email, adding, “We do know that some Tide products have been in secure shelving in some retailers prior to the recent social media conversations.”