People following Switch news on Twitter may have been having fun with goofy reports of Switch games tasting bad, but there’s actually something to it. Miraculously, the world of memes and reality has collided into some pretty interesting news.
Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann put a Switch cartridge in his mouth during a live stream, because that’s the cool and funny thing to do lately. He wasn’t expecting what was apparently an awful taste that lingered in his mouth afterward. What? Turns out, Polygon reached out to Nintendo for an explanation. (This is why we study journalism, folks, to get down to the bottom of these issues.) A Nintendo spokesperson responded that the small size of the carts and Nintendo’s family-oriented branding led to the cartridges being coated with a bittering agent to help prevent children swallowing the little bits of plastic.
Switch carts are coated with denatonium benzoate, which is, according to Wikipedia because I’m no chemist, “the most bitter chemical compound known.” It’s not known for any health risks, hence Nintendo’s non-toxic label, and is commonly used in many household products to help protect people from choking to death on things that shouldn’t generally go into mouths.
Honestly, after waking up to this story, I’m once again glad that video game journalism is alive and well.