National

Why is everyone licking their video game cartridges?

By Greg Hadley

ghadley@mcclatchy.com

The game cartridges for the new Nintendo Switch are coated in a bittering agent, but that has actually encouraged people to lick them.
The game cartridges for the new Nintendo Switch are coated in a bittering agent, but that has actually encouraged people to lick them. AP

As Nintendo prepares to launch its latest gaming console, the Switch, on Thursday, many of the people who have managed to get their hands on one aren’t busy playing the latest games or testing out the console’s unique format.

Instead, lots of people are just licking their video games.

To be more accurate, people are licking the game cartridges that come with the Switch in an exact reversal of what Nintendo intended to happen.

According to IGN, the tech company coated the cartridges, which are roughly the size of a SIM card, in a bittering agent called denatonium benzoate, which is also used in rat poison and antifreeze to deter humans consumption. The chemical is also used to deter nail-biting, per the Telegraph.

Nintendo used the chemical as a safety measure to stop small children and pets from eating the cartridges. While there is no adverse health effects from consuming denatonium benzoate, it does leave a sour, bitter taste that lasts for hours, according to taste testers from BBC News, Quartz and IGN.

But even as more and more people take to social media to let others know how bad the cartridges taste, more and more people seem determined to try it in what some are calling the Nintendo cartridge challenge, similar to the Saltine or nutmeg challenge.

“It was like someone poured a bottle of concentrated [new car scent] into my mouth,” one taster told BBC News.

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