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Here's Why Nintendo Switch Cartridges Taste So Terrible

Well, here's one way to avoid potential lawsuits.

The Nintendo Switch is just hours away from launch, and while most of the buzz surrounding the versatile console has been about its debut titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, one rather odd discovery has captivated a ton of gamers' attention: Switch cartridges taste disgusting.


Reportedly, the initial breakthrough started with Giant Bomb co-founder Jeff Gerstmann, who, apparently out of innocent curiosity, placed a Switch cartridge in his mouth. The result was revolting enough for Gerstmann to warn others to never attempt to do the same. "I put that Switch cart in my mouth and I'm not sure what those things are made of but I can still taste it," he tweeted. "Do not try this at home."

In a statement given to Polygon, Nintendo confirmed this strange revelation, stating that the Switch's cartridges were purposely made to have an unpleasant taste. Each game card has been slathered with a nice coating of a bittering agent meant to discourage players (both young and old) from sticking units in their mouths. This, in turn, will "reduce the possibility of accidental ingestion."


According to a Nintendo representative, the coating agent in question is denatonium benzoate. "What exactly is denatonium benzoate?" you may ask. The chemical compound used to make the Switch's game units taste awful is the most bitter one known to humanity, "widely used as an aversive agent [and] additive that discourages ingestion by making a substance taste so bad that you'll immediately want to spit it out."

While it is non-toxic, it's still nasty. Those who got their hands on the Nintendo Switch early can attest to that. One games reporter from Polygon tested the theory out before Nintendo released its official statement. After tasting Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, and PlayStation Vita cartridges for controlled comparison, Polygon's Julia Alexander gave the Nintendo console's a go. Her taste test with a Switch cartridge (Just Dance 2017, to be specific) was about as terrible as you'd expect.

"It doesn't hit you at first. It tastes just as plain and feels just as slippery as the other three cartridges. In just a few milliseconds, though, a very sour taste invades your taste buds. It smells bad; you can feel it in your throat," Alexander said. "It's revolting, and the only thing I can equate it to is when you're at the dentist and a drop of sour cleaning material hits the back of your tongue. Your entire face feels it. And the taste lingers for about 20 seconds."


While the bittering agent will put nearly everyone off, Nintendo has advised Switch owners to keep the foul-tasting cartridges away from small children to further ensure no unintentional swallowing occurs.

The Nintendo Switch releases Friday, March 3. Let's just hope the highly-anticipated Switch games play better than they taste.