When you live a big portion of your life online it’s tough to understand just how much of your worldview isn’t shared by the rest of the planet. The memes and jokes that may fill your day on Twitter or in a Slack channel don’t translate into the real world. It’s tough out there when you can never log off.
That juxtaposition only grows when an extremely obvious answer to a question, say, blanks the three super smart contestants on Jeopardy! The game show has an endless variety of questions and categories and often slips into the strange and offbeat in an effort to stump contestants studying for the show by presenting them with questions about far stranger things. Like the internet.
On Thursday’s show, Jeopardy! took a deep dive into weird Twitter to come up with a question that left the contestants speechless in its “newer words” category. That’s right: Jeopardy! introduced the rest of America to the phrase “milkshake duck.”
If you’re lost here, let’s try to catch you up. Ben Ward, an Australian cartoonist who goes by pixelatedboat on Twitter, sparked heavy use of the term in 2016 when he tweeted about a duck that drinks milkshakes that everybody loves. After all, who wouldn’t love a duck that can drink frosted beverages? That’s adorable!
But then, things got dark.
The joke here isn’t so much of a joke as the fact that many of the things that often go viral quickly become far less endearing when held up to further scrutiny. That guy who freaked out on Plinko probably doesn’t have the same politics as you and that adorable child who became a viral star may not have a great family steering the proverbial fame ship.
As viral fame grows more and more common, the pattern stuck, which is why the phrase “milkshake duck” grew in popularity, though none of the contestants here seem to have any idea what’s going on.
Still, it’s an exciting moment for Twitter phrases entering the mainstream. PixelatedBoat, who came up with the term in his tweet, had a predictably bewildered reaction to seeing his idea immortalized in game show lore.
Then then quickly changed his Twitter username to “baffling Jeopardy question,” which only makes the whole thing funnier. It’s too bad no one on the show could come up with the correct answer, which most people who live online would easily do. Hopefully this whole incident spreads the term a bit more into the more normal universe as well.