Tide pods may have gotten more attention and inspired more intergenerational admonishment, but they’re not the only social media-fueled eating trend to take over our feeds over the couple months. Like the so-called challenge that saw kids consuming liquid laundry detergent packets, this one doesn’t exactly involve food. In China—and maybe, soon, America?—the craze du jour is eating ice.
Search for “ice eating” or #iceeating on Instagram or YouTube and you’ll find ample video evidence of people chowing down on frozen water—but not the basic cubed stuff. Instead, they’re chewing on fancy, colored ice of all different shapes and textures. Some of these ice creations could rightly be deemed ice sculptures, but their artistry doesn’t save them from winding up down a vlogger’s gullet. The point of the videos, to the extent that there is one, is captured by titles like “THE BEST CRUNCHY ICE EATING ( NO TALKING )”: The sound of teeth gnawing and grinding on ice triggers a pleasing, ASMR-like response in some people. Different shapes, thicknesses, and levels of frozenness of ice result in different biting sounds, meaning that you can find a veritable orchestra of ice-eating noises for free on the internet. There’s an edible ice to fit your every mood: Here’s a rose for Valentine’s Day, and here, for, well, frankly, I’m not sure when these would be appropriate, are some frozen-solid baby shoes. Choose your own frozen bliss.
Many of the YouTube and Instagram videos are reposts of live-streamed content from other services in China, and even videos with view counts in the millions often come with messages below them claiming the material will be taking down if the owner requests removal. But it’s easy to miss such messages when you’re watching a woman (loudly) munch on a giant frozen bear or an ear of corn made of ice. (One out of four ears of corn, in fact, each a different, eye-catching color and producing a pleasantly glacial noise when chewed on.) Accounts solely devoted to eating ice have also cropped up, suggesting a mercenary aspect to the trend. While the primary audience for these videos is in China and on live-streaming platforms, the profusion of well-followed and -watched content on Instagram and YouTube, both banned in China, shows that the rest of the world, too, is no stranger to enjoying the satisfying chomp of incisors on ice.
So if you’ve come across a video of someone eating ice online and wondered why, there you go. Though it runs about even with the Tide Pod Challenge in terms of how much sense it makes (none), eating ice has got one big thing going for it over the detergent: You probably won’t die from taking part in it. Which is about as ringing an endorsement a viral craze can hope for in 2018.
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