Social media users have turned the bit about a disappointing trip to McDonald’s into 2018’s latest food meme.

Abbey White
January 08, 2018

Move over Wendy’s. Only a week in, the internet has decided that McDonald’s deserves the title for 2018’s first viral fast-food meme.

As part of the Ryan Seacrest-hosted New Year’s Rockin’ Eve celebration, Mariah Carey delivered the year’s very first meme after mentioning a noticeable lack of “hot tea” in her hands between performances. Then late last week, the meme-ing of a famous Simpsons gag about “Steamed Hams” took an unsuspected turn when the joke’s own writer and former Simpsons showrunner Bill Oakley posted the segment’s original script to Twitter. The internet went wild, sharing the scene between Superintendent Chalmers and Springfield Elementary’s Principal Skinner in various languages and piling on with even more remixes. But while Mariah Carey fans were sipping on the truth of her comeback performance and Simpsons’ fans were cooking up steamed hams gags, other Twitter users had moved on meme-ing yet another food joke. But this time it came from a John Mulaney stand-up special.

No, it’s not the Tom Jones “Salt and Pepper Diner” joke, though that is arguably the former Saturday Night Live writer and stand-up’s most well-known bit. Instead, anime, video game, and film fans have turned a joke about Mulaney’s father and a hilariously disappointing trip to McDonald’s into a character categorization meme. During the segment, which appears in Mulaney’s hour-long special The Comeback Kid, the comic recalls his father once stopping at McDonald’s during a road trip to Wisconsin. In what has now become an internet-famous troll (before concepts like internet famous and troll even existed), Mulaney’s father seemingly relented to his children’s chanting desires to grab some food from the golden arches. But instead of ordering the family something to eat, Mulaney’s tough as nails father ordered a single cup of black coffee “and kept driving.”

Social media users have turned the joke into a meme that situates characters and people into three categories: The “McDonalds! McDonalds! McDonalds!” chanters, the “We have food at home” advocate, and the “Pulls up to the drive-thru and orders a black coffee” person. While it started as a written meme, users have moved to creating an actual triangular “alignment chart” (like the one from Dungeons and Dragons) that places respective TV and film characters, band members or even their own webcomic creations at one of the three food-inspired “personality” points.

The meme was started by a Tumblr user, according to The Daily Dot, and has since stretched to Twitter and Reddit, covering everything from K-Pop bands and astrology to video games and characters from Star Wars. Some users have even mixed it with other popular memes, resulting in some ultimate internet meme evolution.

If this is any indication, 2018 may shape up to be the year of the food meme (thanks, Mariah!).