News of the Week: Teens Are Stupid, Pencils Are Cool, and Everybody Loves Jiffy Pop

I’ll Take “Things You Shouldn’t Put in Your Mouth” for $200, Alex

Tide Pods on a store shelf
(Mike Mozart /

Kids and teens often do dumb things. I know I did, but looking back, I don’t think I ever ate poison.

Have you seen the new hip craze that’s sweeping the online nation? It’s called the “Tide Pod Challenge.” Teens are filming themselves putting Tide laundry detergent pods in their mouths. Now, the kids aren’t actually swallowing the detergent, but let me repeat, kids are putting Tide laundry detergent in their mouths.

How do these things start, and why do kids go along with them? I’m longing for the days when teens just ate live goldfish or cinnamon.

Please kids, don’t eat Tide Pods. Tide Pods are for cleaning your clothes. There are many great rules to live your life by, and one of the best is this: Never eat something used to clean your laundry. If you won’t listen to me, listen to Gronk!

What’s next, the Liquid-Plumr Challenge? Teens eating books? Old alarm clocks? Pencils?

Write On

Colored pencils

Don’t eat pencils. Instead, write with them!

I bought pencils not too long ago, for the first time in many years. I still use pens every single day (the Uni-ball 207, if you’re curious) because I simply refuse to go “all-digital,” but pencils are something I gave up when I left school. However, I came across a pencil community online (yes, there are online pencil communities), and it inspired me to buy a box of the Palomino Blackwing Pearls, which are some of the nicest pencils you can buy — firmer than the standard Blackwing but softer than the Blackwing 602.

If your eyes haven’t glazed over yet and you’re actually interested in pencils, The New York Times Magazine has a terrific look at one of the last pencil factories in the United States. Not only does the article tell you more about pencils than you ever thought you’d be interested in, but the photographs are quite beautiful.

Once you’re done with that look at how one everyday item is made, take a look at this piece about another one, the common drinking straw, which some people want to abolish forever.

Mystery Oreos

I have a terrible track record when it comes to food contests. I don’t mean cooking contests; I mean contests where you suggest new versions of current food products. I keep entering those competitions where you think of new flavors for potato chips or candy or oatmeal and I never, ever win. And the flavors that do win? Some are okay, but others are … gah. I know mine would taste better!

But I think I’ve uncovered the secret of Mystery Oreos, the new contest Nabisco has launched where you have to guess the flavor of the filling. I know I’m going to win that $50,000! I’m spending the money already!

Never mind, the contest is over. Oh well. The new flavor? Here’s the answer. I don’t know if this is going to be a regular flavor of Oreos from now on, but if not, you still have 97 other flavors to choose from. I still like the original.

And Now, a Cartoon

“It didn’t fall over –it’s a snow wino.” From January/February 1980
“It didn’t fall over –it’s a snow wino.”

This is from the January/February 1980 issue of the Post. I just find the phrase “snow wino” to be really funny for some reason. We’ve got more winter cartoons here.

RIP Keith Jackson, Dolores O’Riordan, and Doreen Tracey

Keith Jackson was a veteran sportscaster best known for calling college basketball games on ABC. Over his 40-year career at the network, he also did play-by-play on Wide World of Sports and Monday Night Football, as well as various World Series and Olympics telecasts. He died last Friday at the age of 89.

Dolores O’Riordan was the lead singer of the Cranberries, known for such songs as “Dreams” (which has been played in hundreds of TV shows and movies), “Linger,” and “Zombie.” She died Monday at the age of 46.

Doreen Tracey was one of the original Mouseketeers on the 1955–59 kids show The Mickey Mouse Club. She later went on to work in music for people like Frank Zappa and the Doobie Brothers. She died last week at the age of 74.

The Best and the Worst

Closeup of a Shiba dog

The Best: Twitter is good for one thing and one thing only: dog pictures and videos. In this one, a dog keeps himself very busy and very happy by sliding down a hill on a sled and then dragging the sled up the hill and doing it all over again. (And here are some great Post covers that feature dogs and sleds.)

The Worst: On the other hand, while we love dogs and often treat them as members of the family, we might not want to know what they’re thinking, which is something we could find out in 10 years if this translator that can help dogs speak human becomes a reality.

This sounds like the first stage of a sci-fi movie, where dogs eventually take over the planet and put all of us on leashes. TV would show endless repeats of Lassie, and there would be dog food vending machines everywhere.

This Week in History

Today Show Premieres (January 14, 1952)

Dave Garroway was the first host of the long-running NBC morning show. Here are the first 13 minutes. I’d love to see those stomach microphones make a comeback.

Edgar Allan Poe Born (January 19, 1809)

The master of the psychological horror story and inventor of the modern detective story was born in Boston but moved to Richmond, Virginia, at the age of 3 after both of his parents died. He later moved to Baltimore and inspired a football team.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Mr. Fix-It (January 14, 1956)

Man trying to fix a sink.
Mr. Fix-It
Stevan Dohanos
January 14, 1956

Sure, the husband (for some reason I’m assuming he’s a husband even though there’s no real proof of that — funny what an image can do) in this Stevan Dohanos cover is reading a book on how to fix his kitchen sink, but you know he’s not going to be successful. I identify with him. If your sink isn’t working or you need help changing the oil in your car, please don’t call me. But if you have an emergency and you need to figure out the difference between a noun and a verb or need to know who played the title role on a ’60s TV series, I’m your guy.

National Popcorn Day

When I was a kid, the only popcorn that would make was Jiffy Pop. There was just something about that moment when the kernels began to pop and the silver foil began to rise. It’s still around and is a lot more fun to make than just throwing a packet in a microwave or opening a bag. Though I don’t remember it being this much fun.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Hugging Day (January 21)

It would be great to hug someone this day, but the way things are now, you might want to ask first.

Australia Day (January 26)

This is a national holiday in Australia. It celebrates the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at New South Wales in 1788. In unrelated Australia news, the Australian Open is currently going on in Melbourne.