Yet another weird viral story that was hiding (even more) disgusting layers beneath its surface.
Milkshake Duck. Zoom Cat Lawyer. And now, Cinnamon Toast Shrimp Tails Guy.
There is an alarming tendency for the Internet to thrust a seemingly random assemblage of nouns — always including a small animal — into strange viral stories, only to have the central figure in said stories revealed as a secret villain.
The essential, prophetic example — the Milkshake Duck — was an invention of Twitter user pixelatedboat back in 2016. He shared the micro-saga of an imaginary duck who drinks milkshakes, winning the Internet's love — only to be immediately revealed as a racist.
But that apparently absurd satire of online culture's fickle blessings continues to be outshined by real life. So when a new series of tweets went viral — relaying the experience of a man who claimed to have found shrimp tails, bits of string, and possible rodent droppings in a bag of Cinnamon Toast Crunch — we should have known what was coming.
Ummmm @CTCSquares - why are there shrimp tails in my cereal? (This is not a bit) https://t.co/tTjiAdrnVp— Jensen Karp (@Jensen Karp)1616434348.0
Nothing so absurd can be pure anymore. Everything must be ruined. But while you could be forgiven for thinking that the impending corruption was obvious — a hoax for publicity and/or the basis of a fraudulent lawsuit à la the Wendy's chili finger — it gets so much worse.
We’re going to a lab https://t.co/utlWpU1k4I— Jensen Karp (@Jensen Karp)1616521594.0
Granted, it may turn out that Jensen Karp — the man who claims to have found those shrimp tails in his cereal after reportedly eating a bowl unawares — was just making it all up. The official Cinnamon Toast Crunch twitter account assured him that there was no potential for such cross-contamination in their facilities, and even suggested that the shrimp tails were likely "an accumulation of sugar" — despite clearly being shrimp tails.
Karp actually shared an image of himself taking the cereal to get tested at a lab to disprove General Mills' sugar hypothesis. But the more important point is that even if Karp is telling the truth in this instance, and something went horribly wrong in the Cinnamon Toast Crunch supply chain — lying and manipulating for his own selfish purposes seems to be very much in character for Karp.
Just fyi, the shrimp tails guy is both a marketing professional and someone who's lied to my face without flinching.— Brandon Bird (@Brandon Bird)1616561815.0
Because as much as he seems like a purely Online phenomenon, Cinnamon Toast Shrimp Tails Guy didn't pop into existence on Twitter this week. He has a history, and it's more full of unpleasant surprises than the bag of cereal that made him famous.
The first thing you're likely to learn when you start digging in is that Jensen Karp is married to a '90s icon — Danielle Fishel Karp, AKA Topanga Lawrence from Boy Meets World. He's also a writer, comedian, podcaster, and rapper who claims that Kanye West owes him $300.
But all of that is just the cinnamon swirl goodness — the sort of fun you like to find in your bowl. What about the gross stuff?
Well, as a rapper Karp went by the name Hot Karl, a reference to the kind of gross sexual play — in this case involving feces — that primarily exists as entries made by teenagers on Urban Dictionary. He was also on the soundtrack for 2009's It's Complicated, with a track called "Back/Forth" in which he brags about sleeping with women who mistakenly believe he wants more than sex, and compares his sexual exploits to those of Rob Lowe...
hot karl back/forth www.youtube.com
But that's in character, right? Sure, he addresses a woman who slept with him expecting emotional intimacy as "wh*re" in the song, but that's just the kind of thing mediocre white-guy rappers used to say to posture as bad boys. Misogynist and racist lyrics may be bad, but they doesn't necessarily tell us anything about his toxicity in one's personal life.
Unfortunately for Karp, what does tell us about his toxicity in his personal life is the slew of people — including multiple ex-girlfriends — who took his sudden viral moment an opportunity to come forward with a litany of allegations of manipulative, abusive, deceitful behavior.
“What you may not know about the man behind the viral posts” what like he’s a manipulative gaslighting narcissistic… https://t.co/1iyJ3no3UP— Melissa Stetten (@Melissa Stetten)1616599081.0
Among his accusers is an ex who plays amateur basketball with Aubrey Plaza, on a team called the Pistol Shrimps — because this story wasn't weird and shrimpy enough — and claims that Karp once expressed surprise that she hadn't killed herself because her "life was so worthless." Oh, and back in the day, Karp used to host The Pistol Shrimp Podcast, which featured courtside coverage of their games.
But even if he has a history of being an awful person to those closest to him, it's not like he would have any particular reason to lie about Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It's not like he had any connection to this brand previously.
What's that? Danielle Fishel Karp did sponsored content for Cinnamon Toast Crunch flavored Coffeemate last year? And even referred to it as her "#1 cereal"?
You guys, @coffeemate has a new flavor based on my #1 cereal! I ALWAYS have a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch at home.… https://t.co/lslVQzkmv8— Danielle Fishel Karp (@Danielle Fishel Karp)1583421144.0
Does that mean that their family goes through a lot of boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and is therefore more likely to encounter a random box full of literal garbage? Or does it possibly point to the fact that Karp had a reason to smear the brand?
Maybe he and his wife were hoping to get more out of that arrangement. Maybe they felt cheated by the experience, and in Karp's (allegedly) manipulative, narcissistic brain, a grudge formed, and out of that grudge he formed a plan for vengeance... Or it's all just a coincidence.
Hahaha my quickly deleted subtweet yesterday said “oh no I can’t follow the latest viral saga cause I was blocked i… https://t.co/CZkj71VQU7— Stephanie Mickus (@Stephanie Mickus)1616599545.0
So who should we believe: the manipulative assh*le who has left a long series of burned bridges in his path, or the giant corporation that wants us to believe that its mass-produced, hyper-processed food-like breakfast squares aren't full of disgusting adulterants and weird stuff we would never agree to put in our bodies?
Neither. The answer is definitely neither.
We shouldn't trust Jensen Karp to tell the truth — or really to be a decent human being in any circumstance — but we also shouldn't trust that General Mills is looking out for our health and wellbeing.
And if, as a result of all this, you never eat a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch again...you're stronger than us.
On the one hand he is a huge liar - but on the other hand getting attention for work some other rat did is very on… https://t.co/d1BcbnT9K5— Eliza Skinner (@Eliza Skinner)1616603469.0