Nintendo has confirmed that the memory cards for the Switch console do indeed taste disgusting. It’s a safety measure rather than a punishment for the mildly curious.
It’s not clear who was the first customer to carry out the taste test, but pre-order sales were reportedly strong and one research firm is predicting five million sales this year. With that number of owners, the odds are that somebody would be a licker.
Naturally the word spread and, like a ‘wet paint’ sign, it proved irresistible to some users. The most common description is that the top of the memory cards (which house the games in place of cartridges) are bitter. The Guardian’s Alex Hern goes a step further, describing it as “ a pure, concentrated dose of unpleasantness, and it lingers in your tastebuds for an uncomfortably long time.”
Nintendo has now confirmed that the cards are coated in denatonium benzoate to try to deter children from swallowing them (likely because they would be a choking hazard.) That’s been measured as the most bitter chemical compound known to man and is the same material used in varnishes designed to prevent nailbiting, or as an additive in soaps and shampoos that children might ingest.