The Milkshake Duck Phenomenon Explained

In the internet multiverse, there are only good and bad guys. They exist in a flurry of tweets, mentions, and duets that either bestow them the title of hero or villain. Heroes are created from simple things that make us happy; Bunny the "talking" dog, Dr. Jean (the Guacamole lady), Steve from Blue's Clues are all wholesome heroes of the internet. Nobody can argue that they don't deserve all the DMs, fan edits, and clout that they get.

However, in the Milkshake Duck Phenomenon, we see the process of heroes becoming villains. It's when sleuths dig deeper into the pasts of these heroes and find things that will undoubtedly make us cancel them — where a person becomes famous for something wholesome but is then discovered to have a terrible past.

For example, the man who went viral for finding a shrimp tail in his Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal — known fondly as "Shrimp Guy" — turned out to have multiple emotional abuse allegations against him, per The Wrap. But where did the Milkshake Duck reaction come from? Why is it a milkshake? Why not a Slushie? Read on to understand why this phenomenon is everywhere.

Milkshake Ducks point to a sordid past

In 2017, a tweet by Pixelatedboat captured the hero-to-villain arc on the internet perfectly: "The whole internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes! *5 seconds later* We regret to inform you the duck is racist." The Twitter user unintentionally created the Milkshake Duck phenomenon.

An apt demonstration of this phenomenon is Ken Bone, the seemingly endearing, undecided voter who politely asked a question on national television at one of the 2016 presidential debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. A few weeks after the internet lauded him, Bone was found to have a Reddit history where he justified unarmed Black teen Trayvon Martin's death, blamed celebrities for leaked photos he enjoyed looking at, and even admitted to committing a felony, according to the New York Post.

While this phenomenon is mostly reserved for non-celebrities, we also see it in once-beloved figures like Ellen DeGeneres, who ended long-running talk show after toxic workplace allegations. While it may be a funny meme with funnier imagery, the Milkshake Duck has a sordid past.