Remember back in the ‘90s when you had to explain to your grandparents how email works? Memes are just like that, but somehow less intuitive. Oh, and the explanation will usually leave people even more confused.
Let’s break it down: at its most basic level, a meme is just a bunch of people riffing on the same source material.
Why? Oh, there’s no why here. It just happens, it snowballs, it becomes a whole thing, brands start trying to get in on the act, then it dies, to be replaced by the next meme.
The latest addition to the canon begins with William Carlos Williams’ 1934 poem ‘This is just to say’.
You’ve probably heard it read out, or studied it in class – you’re likely to be familiar with it at some level, at least.
It’s the one that goes like this:
Everyone likes plums, especially plums served out of an icebox, so there’s your relatability.
At the risk of dissecting something far more than is necessary, the simple language of Williams’ poem makes it ripe for parody. That’s right, ripe. It was a plum joke. Because of the poem. Because fruit’s good when it’s ripe. Shut up.
Anyway, the first viral example we’ve found of someone producing their own take on the poem came back in 2015. In many ways this is the gold standard.
I have stolen— Kelsey D. Atherton (@AthertonKD) April 8, 2015
That were in your
You were planning
And so furious
There’s a good reason why the plums tweets were revived, reimagined and taken to another level, though – it’s not pure coincidence that this has begun in late 2017.
Back in the day, a bunch of us used to riff on “This Is Just To Say”, but could never really crack it because of the 140 character limit. I like that this new 280 reality has led to a resurgence of “plums in the icebox” parody!— Avery Edison (@aedison) December 1, 2017
But memes develop, often to a point where they quickly cease to resemble the original.
You know, stuff like this…
you, unsophisticated: I have eaten the plums— mountain_spectre (@mountain_ghosts) December 2, 2017
me, with subtitles: je suis nom de plumes
was william carlos williams actually his name or was that his nom de plums— Titus Androgynous (@ElSangito) December 2, 2017
Soon enough, we were left in a position where the common factors of plums and an icebox remained, but little else did – like in this rewriting of Fall Out Boy classic ‘Sugar, We’re Goin Down’.
I ate the plums in your icebox/but you’re just a line in a song— it's flynn (@ICELEVEL) November 29, 2017
Song lyrics are an easy win in situations like this, though only if done well, hence this similar take on ‘Paradise City’ by Guns ‘N’ Roses.
Take me down to icebox city / Where the breakfast's sweet and the plums are chilly— Miranda Martini (@mandsypants) November 30, 2017
Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ got the treatment too…
Smells Like Plum— S. Alexander Reed (@industrial_book) December 1, 2017
Load up on plums
We stole from friends
It's fun to eat
Then make amends
I'll leave a note
At break of day
And call it This Is
Just To Say
In the icebox
In the kitchen
Here we are now
Sweet and cold and
As did ‘In the End’ by Linkin Park.
We even got a version of MIA’s ‘Paper Planes’.
all I wanna do is— tony (@sadvil) December 2, 2017
*gun shot, gun shot*
and a *icebox opening noise*
eat your plums
Eventually we hit the sweet spot (yeah, it’s another plum pun, deal with it) where niche tweets morphed into niche tweets about plums.
Taking it in a new direction isn’t something you announce - it just sort of happens.
drunk driving may kill a lot of people, but it also helps a lot of people get to work on time, so, it;s impossible to say if its bad or not,— wint (@dril) May 9, 2014
you were saving the plums for breakfast, but they were also cold sweet and delicious, so, it;s impossible to say if eating them was bad or not,— Will Bloom 🍞🌹 (@WillWBloom) November 30, 2017
Food $200— wint (@dril) September 29, 2013
someone who is good at the economy please help me budget this. my family is dying
Food $200— keewa 🌹 (@keewa) November 30, 2017
someone who is good at breakfast please forgive me. my family is dying
found out last night our cat goes to the kebab shop down the road every day & they give him lamb mince. there's a picture of him on the wall— thom (@thwphipps) December 19, 2014
found out last night our cat goes to the frozen food shop down the road every day & they give him iced plums. there's a picture of him on the wall— William Paul (@willpooool) December 2, 2017
And obviously this…
Ended up as this
Go on, try explaining that to anyone who doesn’t spend 99% of their life on the internet.
“So they ordered a pizza with…”
“No sauce? No cheese? Nothing?”
“Why was there nothing on the other side?”
“Look, I mean, it’s…”
“And what do plums have to do with it?”
“OK, I’ve made a huge mistake here.”
On one side you have the crossover of plums and music, while on another there’s the crossover between plums and memes. Slap bang in the middle of that Venn diagram, there’s this.
Well, the plums start comin' and they won't stop comin'.— Sam B (@halborski) November 28, 2017
Gotta hit the icebox for some more cold plummin'
Didn't make sense to eat lukewarm plums
You got the icebox, so go chill them, son
Still confused? Don’t worry, it’ll soon have made way for a different meme you don’t understand.
Of course, all of these tweets leave one big question unanswered: who saves cold plums to eat for breakfast?
The ‘30s were wild.
(Images: Marten Bjork)