Here's a tale that will make you instinctively cross your legs at the ankles and do an involuntary Kegel — a woman who discovered that her unused Kotex tampons were covered in mysterious black spots was told by the manufacturer that she should cool her jets because the substance on her tampons was harmless bread mold. Just your standard run-of-the mill "there's mold on something that's supposed to go into my vagina" consumer complaint.
After taking her grievance to the internet, the moldy tamponmaker (ponsmith? mensestress?) has apologized, but not before giving millions of women a reason to rip open their box of cotton ponies and examine them individually for mold like a crazy person.
The clitoris curdling saga started last week, when a blogger named Danielle wrote that she had found a moldy tampon in a box of new Kotex. She posted pictures on her blog and wrote Kimberly Clark, the manufacturer of Kotex, a letter expressing her dismay. The company's response was a chirpy, quickly fired off corporate form letter apologizing for the oversight and offering her a coupon for some new Kotex tampons. It read, in part,
We understand how distressing it can be to find mold on a product that is used for personal hygiene and apologize for your concern. In instances where it has been found, we conducted tests on the product involved and have found the mold to be a common environmental species that carries no health risk. The vegetative mold is similar in nature to mold on vegetables or in baked goods.
To Danielle, the swift, impersonal nature of the reply raised suspicions that perhaps this whole "tampon teeming with fungi" thing wasn't an isolated incident.
Meanwhile, as these future urban legends in the making tend to do, the blog post and pictures went viral. Danielle approached a local news outlet with her festering feminine product, offering it for independent lab testing like it was an Eggo waffle that, once toasted, revealed an image of Pope John Paul II or The Virgin Mary.
But the lab test never happened, because someone at Kimberly-Clark caught wind of the kerfluffle and reached out with a more sincere, alarmed-sounding apology letter reassuring Danielle that Kotex tampons don't typically double as their own tiny ecosystems and asking her to send Kimberly-Clark the product for lab testing and analysis.
A humble corporate apology is to be commended, but holy living mother of single celled organisms is this frightening. A case like this that links a brand of tampons to an image of bread mold is, I'd imagine, pretty damaging. Most women prefer things that go into their vaginas to be as sterile and clean as possible, unless they're penises attached to members of rock bands or Wilmer Valderrama.
Don't worry; that's just bread mold on your tampon [Consumerist]