Ten Unforgettable Web Memes
Cats and failures highlight this list of the memes that have gone mainstream. Which ones did we miss?
- By Megan Gambino, Ryan R. Reed, Jesse Rhodes and Brian Wolly
- Smithsonian.com, April 18, 2011
For some intangible reason, cats are at the center of many of the Internet’s virulent memes, with the LOLcat (pronounced el-oh-el-cat, loll-cat or lull-cat) as the most prominent. Around 2005, 4chan, the Internet message board responsible for many web memes, posted cat photos with captions using “kitty pidgin” instead of proper English. “Kitty pidgin,” or “lolspeak,” can best be described as a combination Internet slang and baby talk. The most famous LOLcat image is “Happy Cat” with the caption, “I can has cheezburger?” In 2007, icanhazcheezburger.com gave lolcats a home and more importantly, a platform for the meme to take off. In that same year, Ben Huh discovered the site and eventually purchased icanhazcheezburger.com with a group of investors for $2 million. The LOLcat inspired many other memes, including LOLpresident—featuring amusing photos of politicians—and LOLrus, using the walrus in place of the cat. -- RR