Milkshake Duck

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Milkshake Duck is an Internet meme that describes phenomena that are initially perceived as positive, only to soon after be revealed as deeply flawed.[1][2] Oxford Dictionaries defined the term as "a person or character on social media that appears to be endearing at first, but is found to have an unappealing back story",[3] but did not consider usage of the neologism to be sufficiently long-lived or widespread to warrant inclusion in their dictionaries.[4]

The meme was started on Twitter on June 12, 2016 by Ben Ward, an Australian cartoonist using the online handle "pixelatedboat"[5]. The Twitter joke describes a fictional Internet viral phenomenon of a duck that drinks milkshakes, subsequently discovered to be racist. Ward described the Twitter message as "a pretty good joke" summing up a recent trend where popularity that comes via the Internet can be quickly washed away by discovering something troubling in a person's past. When asked in 2017, Ward was unsure what actually inspired him to make the joke, but recalls it was partially influenced by the Chewbacca Mask Lady viral phenomenon.[6][7][8]

The term had some use prior to June 2017, in particular with Ken Bone during the 2016 United States Presidential debate, who was discovered to have a questionable Reddit history after his appearances.[7] The term gained greater use in June 2017, as noted by the Oxford Dictionaries. The demonstration of the independently-developed video game The Last Night was a highlight of Microsoft's press conference during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2017 due to its stylish cyberpunk visuals. However, one of its creators, Tim Soret, had been found to have previously spoken in support of the Gamergate controversy in 2014, which led several to criticize his views a day later and tarnished the game's image. Soret apologized the next day and stated his views on Gamergate had since changed. The "milkshake duck" term was quickly applied to the game.[7] Criticism over the game and the subsequent controversy over social media led to wider adoption of the term.[6]

The term was twice referenced on Gimlet Media's Reply All podcast; initially in episode #98, entitled "Fog of Covfefe"[9], and subsequently in episode #110, "The Antifa Supersoldier Spectacular". [10]

In December 2017, Oxford Dictionaries announced that the phrase was a runner up as word of the year, losing out to "youthquake".[3]

In January 2018, Australia's Macquarie Dictionary named "milkshake duck" as its 2017 word of the year.[11][12]


  1. ^ "What's a Milkshake Duck, and why is everyone talking about it?". The Daily Dot. 2017-06-13. Retrieved 2017-06-27. 
  2. ^ Tait, Amelia (20 August 2017). "The internet dictionary: what is a Milkshake Duck?". Retrieved 2017-10-23. 
  3. ^ a b "Youthquake' declared word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries". BBC News. 15 December 2017. 
  4. ^ "Word of the Year 2017: the shortlist". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 30 Jan 2018. 
  5. ^ Ward, Ben [@pixelatedboat] (June 12, 2016). "The whole internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes! *5 seconds later* We regret to inform you the duck is racist" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  6. ^ a b Bromwich, Jonah Engel (2017-06-27). "How a Joke Becomes a Meme: The Birth of 'Milkshake Duck'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-06-27. 
  7. ^ a b c "Getting 'Milkshake Ducked': An Internet-Specific Tragedy of Our Time". Esquire. 2017-06-24. Retrieved 2017-06-27. 
  8. ^ Koerber, Brian. "Milkshake Duck: We need to stop idolizing unremarkable people on the internet". Mashable. Retrieved 2017-10-23. 
  9. ^ "#98 Fog of Covfefe". Gimlet Media. June 8, 2017. Retrieved July 8, 2017. 
  10. ^ "The Antifa Supersoldier Spectacular". Reply All. Gimlet Media. Retrieved 16 January 2018. 
  11. ^ Webb, Tiger (15 January 2018). "Why 'milkshake duck' is the perfect choice for word of the year". ABC News. Retrieved 15 January 2018. 
  12. ^ "The Committee's Choice for Word of the Year 2017 goes to..." Macquarie Dictionary. 15 January 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2018.