Tide Pods are small, colourful pouches of detergent. Their sole purpose in this world is to dissolve and clean gunk off clothes. They are meant to go in your washing machine and not in your mouth, no matter how much they look like giant Gushers candy or delicious, orange and blue dumplings. They are not food, regardless of what the Amazon reviews might say.
And yet, in spite of all that, teens across America have spent the first few weeks of 2018 making videos about eating Tide Pods as part of that age-old quest for internet relevancy. Now, according to a new report from the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), 86 people have called poison control this year to report someone who has ingested a Tide Pod—and more than half of the calls have come through during the past week alone.
"During the first two weeks of 2018, poison control centres handled 39 cases of teens intentionally exposed to a liquid laundry packet. In just the past week, we've seen another 47 cases, for a total of 86 between January 1 and January 21, 2018," AAPCC head Stephen Kaminski wrote in a press release about the findings this week.
That number is rapidly approaching the total number of teenagers who were exposed to the Pods in 2017. According to the Washington Post, poison control centres reported that 220 teens had ingested them last year, and 25 percent of them did so intentionally. It's not clear if anyone has died yet this year from eating them, but at least one college kid was hospitalised after swallowing one this week.
"We cannot stress enough how dangerous this is to the health of individuals," Kaminski went on. "It can lead to seizure, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, coma, and even death."
Tide and its parent company, Proctor & Gamble, have been going hard to keep people from eating detergent, recruiting Rob Gronkowski for a PSA and frantically tweeting out the Poison Control Center hotline to anyone who says they've bit into a Pod.
YouTube also recently started deleting videos of the so-called "Tide Pod Challenge" in hopes that it will quell the meme, saying that the site's community guidelines "prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm."
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.