UPDATE: In an email to Motherboard, Mojang says it will patch Minecraft to remove this gameplay mechanic.
To tame a parrot or make them mate in the insanely popular game Minecraft, players feed the wild birds a chocolate chip cookie. This gameplay mechanic set off a firestorm over the weekend, as Redditors suggested that feeding chocolate to parrots in real life would kill them.
A Reddit post called "Dear Mojang. Please remove feeding chocolate to birds to make them breed. Millions of kids will play this game. You picked the one food in the game that will kill them to make them breed and tame them" quickly became the most upvoted post of all time in the r/minecraft subreddit. The thinking is spelled out in the title of the post, but a Redditor called 1jl noted in their post that "you can't tell me some 6 year old is going to play Minecraft and then try to feed their Mom's 45 year old Macaw chocolate chips or a chocolate chip cookies."
So far, the post has more than 36,000 up votes, with 1,500 comments ruminating on the intelligence of children, the importance of proper parenting, and general outrage that Minecraft developer Mojang's design decision may inadvertently lead to some dead birds.
I reached out to parrot expert Marc Morrone, who is "Martha Stewart's pet expert" as well as a co-owner of Parrots of the World, a pet shop on Long Island, to see if he thought parrots of the world are now in danger.
Turns out, most parrots know not to eat chocolate already.
"This is very funny!," he told me in an email. "You millennials certainly do have too much time on your hands!"
"If a parrot ate a large amount of pure baker's chocolate then the theobromine that it contains MAY hurt the bird if it ate a lot of it," he continued. "However pure bakers chocolate is very bitter and few parrots would do much more than a taste. Milk chocolate has very little actual chocolate in it and it is mostly milk and sugar so if a bird ate that then it would not be an issue."
He did agree that Mojang would be better off just changing its in-game mechanic. Representatives for Mojang and Microsoft (which bought the company for $2.5 billion in 2014) did not immediately respond to a Motherboard request for comment.
"Just take out the chocolate part and say that you need to tame the bird by giving it a blueberry," Morrone said. "None of these lunatics [the parrots] can ever find anything wrong with a blueberry."