2017 Meme Hall of Fame: This year was a rough one in the news, but a great one for memes. When the news was filled with hurricanes, shootings, and political drama, people on the internet were always coming up with more memes to perfectly express whatever very specific feeling we were having.
White Guy Blinking: Incredulous, blinking, head-shaking. White Guy Blinking, which went viral in February but stuck around all year, tops a lot of “Best 2017 Memes” lists. He perfectly sums up how we felt a lot of the time. From “I don’t understand at all” to “Are you kidding me? It’s 2017 — is this really happening right now?” White Guy Blinking was there to empathize. This tweet from @eksbl is known as the tweet that made this meme go viral.
Salt Bae: Salt Bae was one of the first major memes of 2017, if not the first. A video of Turkish chef Nusret Gokce sprinkling salt on freshly cut meat went viral in early January. It was the way he sprinkled the salt — with particular flair and flourish — that made the video entertaining to so many. Sprinkle this meme sparingly in your friends’ mentions.
Thinking Guy: This meme, which went viral in late January and is colloquially known as Thinking Guy, is actually called “Roll Safe.” It’s used when giving bad life advice, such as, “You can’t be broke if you don’t check your bank account,” tweeted by @RyanWindoww. Typically, the construction is “[Something bad] can’t happen to you if you don’t…” But don’t take this meme’s word for it.
Distracted Boyfriend: Distracted Boyfriend is the ultimate stock photo meme with endless permutations. This meme stands out because it can be fill-in-the-blank, encouraging everyone to make their own. It clearly shows a girlfriend’s disgust at the way her boyfriend looks at another woman, but it can be used for pretty much anything. Maybe your job is the girlfriend, and the other woman is all the memes you’ve been looking at.
Top viral moments:
Nugs for Cater
This year brought us the story of a regular teen whose viral tweet got the most retweets of all time. Carter Wilkerson tried to get 18 million retweets in exchange for a year’s worth of Wendy’s chicken nuggets. He didn’t make it that far, but on May 9, his tweet reached 3.5 million retweets; it’s now the most retweeted tweet ever. Wendy’s gave Carter his nuggets and donated $100,000 to charity.
Szechuan sauce debacle
McDonald’s created a real-life and online fiasco when it brought back its 1998 Szechuan dipping sauce on Oct. 7 in extremely limited quantities after “Rick and Morty” fans spent a good part of 2017 harassing the fast-food company about it. McDonald’s apologized for not meeting demand and promised to bring back the sauce for real. We’re still waiting.
Word of the year: Covfefe
“Despite the constant negative press covfefe” — @realDonaldTrump
How to pronounce it? What does it mean? This tweet, which Trump sent out at 12:06 a.m. on May 31 (and later deleted), captivated the nation. Was it a typo? A secret message? Many have tried to figure it out, but the tweet really took on a life of its own when people made up their own interpretations. Like @travon, who tweeted, “Ask your doctor if Covfefe is right for you,” and @billyeichner, who tweeted: “When they go low, we covfefe.” We may never know the truth.