Nintendo Switch Cartridges Taste So Bad [Update]

The Switch is almost upon us, and while there’s still a lot to discover about Nintendo’s latest console, one pressing question has been answered. “How do the cartridges taste?” So bad. Oh god, so bad. Update—Nintendo tells us what we’re tasting.

The subject of the taste of Nintendo Switch cartridges was first raised by game journalist and eater of things Jeff Gerstmann, who in the course of his exploration of the new console decided to stick one of the cartridges in his mouth.


As a fellow game journalist and professional eater of things in my capacity of Snacktaku editor, I carefully considered my (late) response to Jeff’s statement.

Now that the Switch is in more hands, its cartridges are in more mouths, and everyone agrees—these taste horrible. The suggestion has been made that Nintendo purposely made the cartridges taste bad in order to prevent small children from putting them in their mouths, perhaps while crawling about the shattered glass of the Switch tablet they are too young to be trusted with.

As of this writing, Nintendo has not responded to my inquires into the matter, not even to urge me not to do this and tell me how much I have to live for.


As a man of my word, I have not done a Snacktaku video on Switch carts. I have done a Snacktaku video in which I taste several generations of Nintendo cartridges and one Vita game in order to see if a pattern emerges. Then I taste a Switch cartridge. It’s the worst thing you can do to your tongue.

Immediately upon touching a Nintendo Switch cartridge one’s tongue is assaulted by a harsh bitterness that spreads like a brush fire through the mouth. Having a drink on hand helps, but not completely.


The taste and how it spreads suggests some sort of oily residue left on the cartridge. If you’ve ever pinched an orange peel and tasted the oil that oozes from the rind, it’s like that, only without the citrus accents.

Mortal Kombat. Test your bite. Sorry.
Mortal Kombat. Test your bite. Sorry.

Interestingly enough, there’s a hint of the same sort of bitterness lingering on cartridges from the original Nintendo Entertainment System and the Super NES, though it’s very faint and doesn’t cling to your mouth.

Is this a by-product of the manufacturing process, or is Nintendo making their Switch games taste bad on purpose to save them from ravenous hordes of plastic-eating children? I don’t know. What I do know is that if you’re getting a Nintendo Switch, you should not put the cartridges in your mouth.


Or you should, and get it on video.

Update 3/2/2017—1:40 AM: Nintendo has responded to my inquiry, revealing the culprit behind the bitterness. Here’s what the company has to say:


“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.”

According to Wikipedia, denatonium benzoate is the most bitter chemical compound known, commonly used as an aversion agent to prevent accidental ingestion, which is why the Switch cards are coated in it. It’s also used in animal repellent, shampoos, soaps and nail-biting prevention.

Illustration for article titled Nintendo Switch Cartridges Taste So Bad [Update]

Kotaku elder, lover of video games, keyboards, toys, snacks, and other unsavory things.

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But how well will the cartridges run after going through the entire digestive system?