Charles Patrick went to sleep on Jan. 19 after posting a photo of the Tide Pod shot, a new drink served at Molly’s Irish Grille & Sports Pub.
When he woke up, his post had over 1 million views. By the end of the next day, the number had climbed to 6.3 million. Molly’s Facebook page also gained 5,000 new likes in a single day.
“It’s crazy,” said Patrick, the owner of the bar on East Fourth Street. “It was overnight. We couldn’t believe it.”
Despite the photo’s increasing popularity, Facebook took it down after someone reported it. Molly’s posted it again, to only have it removed once more.
“They took it down again with a stern warning,” Patrick said. “So then we put the Ghost Busters (symbol) over it and put it back up again. They haven’t messed with us since.
The post with the shot crossed out remains on the page.
“We’re the shot that got banned by Facebook,” Patrick said.
The tri-colored alcoholic beverage was inspired by the “Tide Pod Challenge,” a social media trend in which participants bite into the laundry detergent packs and post videos of the experience. YouTube has made an effort to remove the videos and Tide has posted a warning featuring a New England Patriots player Rob Gronkowski to make people aware of the toxicity and true purpose of the pods.
According to the Tide website, the pods are, “highly concentrated detergent meant only to clean clothes.” If a person swallows the product, Tide recommends drinking a glass of water or milk and contacting the Poison Control Center or a doctor immediately.
Patrick said Molly’s media manager came to him with the idea to create the Tide Pod shot, which costs $4 and consists of layers of Blue Curacao, Bailey’s and orange-colored vodka to mimic the appearance of Tide Pods.
Patrick said a layering technique is used to make the drink, which involves slowly spooning the different liquors on top of one another.
Molly’s is now calling the drink the “laundry pod shot” instead of using the term “Tide” because Patrick does not want to be sued by Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods corporation that owns Tide.
He said the shot is the first original drink idea Molly’s has had in a while and that no other idea has received this much national attention.
Patrick said Molly’s has received calls from different bar owners around the country asking how the shot is made. He has received calls from bartenders in Canada inquiring about the shot and was also told the shot was featured in an Irish news report.
While those at Molly’s don’t mind sharing the recipe, they want to be credited with creating the concoction.
“The Tipsy Bartender copied it from us,” he said. “And then people were giving them crap saying that Molly’s created it, so then they gave us credit.”
Patrick said the drink was especially popular when Lehigh students returned from winter break. He said hundreds of these shots are sold each night.
Liam Brown, ’18, said he purchased the drink to post it on his Snapchat story. Despite mixed reviews on the taste of the drink, he said it has been popular on Instagram and Snapchat.
“It’s definitely for the social media craze,” Brown said. “I think it was funny for the (Snapchat) story, but I don’t think it’ll be my regular order at Molly’s anytime soon.”
Patrick said Lehigh students are constantly on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook and because of that that, they are spreading the word about the drink and generating web traffic.
Sara Fuertes, ’19, went to Molly’s on her 21st birthday to try the drink. Fuertes and her friend, Ceci Alfaro, ’18, found out about the shot through Instagram.
Alfaro said she is curious if the shot will be taken off of Molly’s menu as a result of the controversy surrounding the challenge.
“I think it’s interesting because I feel like people are not necessarily relating the shot to the Tide Pod Challenge,” Alfaro said. “Many people who have taken the shot don’t support the Tide Pod challenge.”
Despite some backlash in Facebook comments, Molly’s will continue to sell the shot.
“In the media and from different news outlets, you have cases of kids eating tide pods and passing away,” Brown said. “So I think you have that whole negative publicity side. So is the shot glorifying that? You have to take that into consideration.”
Brown said he hopes the drink is not inspiring anyone to eat a real Tide Pod and students should think about the message the shots are promoting.
“Ninety-five percent of people were very supportive and loved it,” Patrick said. “But, there’s always that five percent.”