The cartridges for Nintendo’s new console taste awful so kids won’t swallow them

This is basically the face I made after trying.
This is basically the face I made after trying.
Image: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

If you’re planning to get a Nintendo Switch after it launches tomorrow, here is one thing I would recommend: Do not lick the cartridges.

There have been some tweets and discussions on the internet that the cartridges from the Switch have been coated in a substance that makes them taste foul so that children wouldn’t try to swallow them. The cartridges are a little smaller than the size of a standard SD card, which makes them a perfect target for a curious toddler. To test whether this is the case, reviewers and others with early access to the Switch have been licking or putting cartridges in their mouth, and it turns out, they have a rather foul taste.

I know this is the case because, in the name of journalism, I licked the The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild cartridge that Nintendo supplied me to review the new console. (I’m sorry, Nintendo.) Over the last 30 years of my life, I’ve definitely tasted plastic things before, but none of them have had the intense, bitter flavor that the Switch cartridge had. It took over an hour for the taste from the cartridge to start receding from my mouth.

Nintendo told Quartz that the cartridges were indeed coated in a substance that will theoretically prevent kids (or journalists in their thirties) from swallowing them:

To avoid the possibility of accidental ingestion, keep the game card away from young children. A bittering agent (Denatonium Benzoate) has also been applied to the game card. This bittering agent is non-toxic.

It’s good to know that this agent is non-toxic. Hopefully the company put as much thought into the design of the console and its games as it did into the safety of its users.