Brooklyn pizza maker Sean Berthiaume says the idea for “pied pods” came to him in a dream. The colourful calzone concoctions are made to look like Tide laundry detergent pods, but the blue and orange swirls are made from cheese dyed with food colouring.
“I got up early and immediately started making them,” Berthiaume, co-owner of Vinnie’s Pizzeria in New York City, told As It Happens host Carol Off.
The pizzeria, which also invented the edible pizza box, is safely cashing in on the very unsafe trend of young people snacking on Tide laundry pods.
“They’re 100 per cent edible. There’s no poison or soap or anything in them,” Berthiaume said of the pied pods. “They’re filled with cheese and pepperoni and ricotta and Italian seasonings.”
However, that’s not the case with actual Tide pods, which have become a problem for first responders and health authorities across North America. Tide has issued a PSA advising people not to eat the candy-like creations — as have several health authorities and police departments.
It’s all thanks to “the Tide pod Challenge” — in which people dare each other online to snack on the detergent packets. It started off as a joke — and mostly still is — but some teens are taking it literally.
Poison control centres in the U.S. received more than 50,000 calls about liquid laundry packet exposures over the last five years, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAAPC).
“While unintentional misuse by children five and under accounted for the majority of these calls, a recent trend among teenagers ingesting the packets… has caused significant concern,” the association said.
The AAAPC says poison control centres handled 39 intentional exposures among 13- to 19-year olds in 2016, and another 53 in 2017. That’s ramping up this year, with 39 calls in that age group in the first 15 days of 2018 alone.
Health experts say if ingested, the liquid inside the pods can cause diarrhoea, coughing spells and vomiting. Children who aspirate it into their lungs can suffer from long-term breathing difficulties.
“It sounded unbelievable, to be honest, that anyone would be willing to do this,” Berthiaume said.
As for the pied pods, he said they are a temporary feature on the Vinnie’s menu.
“It’s just kind of a thing that we’re doing to kind of be like, ‘Listen kids, if you have some sort of desire to eat this orange and blue swirled thing, why not eat this? It looks similar and you actually won’t get sick.”
Vinnie’s says you can buy two for $5 US.