In the 90s, it felt like everyone was obsessed with safety seals. If forced to choose between two brands, many of us would have picked the one with the plastic-wrapped lid. If we didn't feel the seal break when we opened a half-gallon milk, most of us would insist on going back to the supermarket to exchange it for a more intact-looking gallon. And on Halloween, any unpackaged, homemade candy went straight from the neighbors' hands into the trash.
America was living in the wake of the hysteria that surrounded those early 1980s Tylenol murders. Urban legends about undetectable poisons and hidden razor blades were everywhere.
But also, sometimes, people are just really disgusting.
After seeing the now-viral video of a woman licking a carton of ice cream and then putting it back in a grocery store's freezer, we’re thinking it might be time to revisit that era of paranoia. This all started a couple of days ago, when a Twitter user named Optimus Primal posted a nine-second clip of an as-yet-unidentified woman dragging her tongue across the top of a gallon of Blue Bell's Tin Roof ice cream. "Oh, you're foul, put it back," the cameraperson says, as she pops it right back on the shelf beside the other, unlicked gallons.
"What kinda psychopathic behavior is this," Optimus (yeah, we know) asked. That's a question that Blue Bell is asking, too. "We want to thank our consumers for alerting us to the incident this past weekend of a video posted to social media showing a Blue Bell item being tampered with," the Brenham, Texas company posted on its website. "We take this issue very seriously and are currently working with law enforcement, retail partners and social media platforms. This type of incident will not be tolerated. Food safety is a top priority, and we work hard to provide a safe product and maintain the highest level of confidence from our consumers."
The majority of responses to the video have been a combination of outrage, disgust, and suggestions about what kind of punishment the woman should face if she's caught. Although she has not been positively identified, MySanAntonio.com cites a tweet claiming that she used the now-deleted Instagram account @xx.asiaaa.xx.
"Yeah, I really did that," xx.asiaaa.xx allegedly commented. "You can call it Flu Bell ice cream now 'cause I was a little sick last week." She also encouraged others to do the same thing, suggesting that they "start an epidemic (literally)."
Regardless, Blue Bell has had to sift through a lot of replies asking why it doesn't put a plastic seal around its ice cream. "During production, our half gallons are flipped upside down and sent to a hardening room where the ice cream freezes to the lid creating a natural seal." the company said in a statement. "The lids are frozen tightly to the carton. Any attempt at opening the product should be noticeable." OK, that might be the case, but consumers probably wouldn’t notice until bringing the product home—and if it re-freezes, is it still gonna be obvious that some gross person with a seeming sociopathic streak has already licked it? ("We take this issue very seriously, but we hope that you will understand that since this is an ongoing investigation we do not have information to release at this time," a Blue Bell spokesperson told VICE when we asked for additional comment.)
The location of this ice cream desecration hasn't been determined either, but again, MySanAntonio.com has suggested that it happened in Texas. (Blue Bell products are currently sold in 21 states, mostly in the southern half of the continental United States.)
If that's the case, then The Licker could face some serious criminal charges for tampering with a consumer product. The Texas Penal Code says that "a person commits an offense if he knowingly or intentionally threatens to tamper with a consumer product with the intent to cause fear, to affect the sale of the consumer product, or to cause bodily injury to any person"—and yes, that crime is a felony.
Moms of the 90s, you'll be pleased to know that we’re sticking with plastic-wrapped ice cream from now on. You were right—you were always right.