Have you ever seen a tweet you thought couldn't possibly be more wholesome, only to find out the genius behind it was racist? Or witnessed a viral trend that originated with pure intentions, only for it to be twisted into something less than innocent?
So, what does Milkshake Duck mean?
The phrase "Milkshake Duck" originated in 2016, via a popular Twitter user named Ben Ward, whose handle is @pixelatedboat. The tweet reads, "The whole internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes! *5 seconds later* We regret to inform you the duck is racist." The tweet itself has racked up over 44,000 likes but resurfaced again when a gaming developer was revealed to have an offensive tweet history.
"cinnamon toast shrimp guy turned out to be a milkshake duck just like bean dad" is a sentence I desperately wish I did not understand— Janel Comeau (@VeryBadLlama) March 24, 2021
The gaming community began to refer to these situations as "milkshake ducks," and a new phrase was born! You could compare the phrase to the Tumblr-coined "problematic fave," which Vox describes as our loss of faith in our heroes over time. The Milkshake Duck phenomenon could also be described with the phrase "this is why we can't have nice things."
To those who spend a lot of time on the internet, Milkshake Duck has evolved into a very bleak look at meme culture, where at any given point anyone who posts a fun joke or wholesome bit of content could suddenly be revealed to have a dark side.
bean dad was terrible from the start and therefore not a true milkshake duck, whereas we all briefly sided with cinnamon toast shrimp guy putting him more on par with lawyer cat. in this essay i will— Emma (@emmawdwrd) March 24, 2021
What are some notable instances of Milkshake Ducks?
The most recent instance of Milkshake Duck was the viral tweet by Jensen Karp, a current producer and former rapper who went by the name of Hot Karl. He's also the husband of Boy Meets World star Danielle Fishel.
Jensen recently went viral when he found discarded shrimp tails in his box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, causing internet panic and uproar. General Mills claimed they were investigating the issue shortly after.
Unfortunately, shortly after Jensen went viral, it was revealed that he was accused of abuse by not one but multiple of his ex-girlfriends on Twitter. They have stated that since coming forward with their experiences, other women have continued to reach out regarding the abuse they faced at Jensen's hands.
Fans and Twitter observers also pointed out that Danielle, his wife, participated in the racist bullying of former cast member of Boy Meets World Trina McGee.
Other notable examples of Milkshake Duck include Doja Cat's controversy of 2018 (she used homophobic slurs in tweets), cartoonist Nathan W. Pyle and his viral cartoons about aliens that contrast with his anti-abortion views, and the bean dad trying to teach his daughter a lesson.
There have been a few examples of "Reverse Milkshake Duck," where people who have gone viral for bad reasons explain themselves into likability. The term, however goofy-sounding, is sure to spark future debates on viral internet culture for years to come.