I don’t know about you, but I spent most, if not all, of this past decade on the Internet. And while you may think memes might not have much societal impact, these food memes were, in one way or another, indicative of how we as a society changed over the years.
2010- Epic Meal Time
What an obnoxious way to start off the decade. It seems so long ago, but the bacon weave and all of bacon paraphernalia that followed cluttered every aspect of our lives for the years to come. I still can’t eat bacon without thinking about kids in high school wearing bacon socks or using bacon chapstick and thought that made them interesting (Spoiler alert: we were in high school, none of us were interesting).
Sure, Nutella was first made in 1964, but memes didn’t exist then. It was around this time that it became synonymous with “Hipster Tumblr,” and the divide between hipster and fandom Tumblr users that defined that segment of meme culture at the time. Boy, I sure am glad we moved past that phase and just reblog whatever we want while sending people death threats over Steven Universe OCs, like normal people. 2011 was also the year that a lawsuit was filed against Ferrero USA for marketing Nutella as “part of a nutritious breakfast,” even though it’s mostly sugar and oil. And there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
2012- Cinnamon Challenge
This one was a little harder to find a definitive meme of the year, since everyone was too busy worrying about the world ending and/or Gangnam Style. It was a dark time for everyone, including food memes. And while apparently the Cinnamon Challenge has been around since 2001, it hit its high water mark in 2012, with 70,000 Twitter mentions a day in January alone.
2013- Hot Dog Legs
Yet another unrealistic standard for women. Jokes aside though, nothing sums up Instagram’s unhealthy body image problems than legs so thin and fake-tanned that you can’t tell if its a person or hot dogs.
2014- Back at it Again at Krispy Kreme
I can’t think of a Vine (food-related or otherwise) that does a better job summing up what made Vine great. The dramatic flip through the air. The wanton destruction. The implication that this is not his first time doing this, and that he probably will do it again. The probably unintended product placement. All packed into three seconds? Iconic.
2015- Pizza Rat
We’re all just trying to survive out there. Even the subway rats. I’d like to think he had a nice long nap after eating that.
2016- Fre Shavac Ado
I’d like to think that this Vine marked a tipping point where we officially moved away from the old-style, methodically-crafted image macro templates and entered the new age of neo-dadaist, shitpost memes where the whole joke was that the letters on the sign were slightly misaligned. And you know what? We’re better off for it. Let memes evolve with the times.
2017- Avocado Toast
Again, we’re all just trying to survive out there. Some of us are doing better than others. It’s ok that I can’t afford a house, I can put fruit on a piece of bread. It’s just a shame no one came up with “ok boomer” for another two years.
I know I just talked about IHOb, but I feel like even if this meme was relatively short lived, it does carry significant weight. Companies, for better or worse, became aware that their social media presence had to do something to actively engage their followers. Most companies went the route of “corporate clapbacks,” creating hype by being sassy towards their competitors or unsatisfied customers. IHOP… did this. Speaking of “for better or worse,” this was also around the same time “cringe culture” became a thing, which I guess also applies here.
2019- The Chicken Sandwich Wars
What, did you think the cheese slap trend was gonna win? Besides the fact that that started back in 2006, it can’t hold a candle to the sheer chaotic 2019 energy that people fighting on Twitter and jumping in drive-thru windows to beat up cashiers over chicken sandwiches had.
Hopefully the next decade will be kinder to us. Or at least maybe I’ll spend a little less time glued to my computer.