The “What in Tarnation” Meme of 2017: An Unlikely Catchphrase that Sparked Viral Humor

Delve into the unexpected phenomenon of the “What in Tarnation” meme in 2017, a year when a simple catchphrase paired with an amusing image ignited widespread internet humor and creative iterations. From its origins as a cowboy-inspired exclamation to its evolution into a versatile meme format, this meme captivated the online community’s imagination.

The Curious Origin of “What in Tarnation”

In 2017, a photo of a perplexed-looking cowboy accompanied by the exclamation “What in Tarnation” became the catalyst for a viral meme. The phrase itself is an archaic term often used in Western films to express astonishment or disbelief. The unexpected juxtaposition of the cowboy’s expression and the phrase’s quaintness struck a chord with users, setting the stage for the meme’s explosive popularity.

The Versatile Meme Format

The “What in Tarnation” meme quickly evolved into a versatile format that allowed users to pair the catchphrase with a wide range of images, each one more absurd or unexpected than the last. Whether it was animals, inanimate objects, or even pop culture references, the meme’s adaptability led to a cascade of humorous and creative interpretations.

Cultural References and Adaptations

As the meme gained traction, internet users began incorporating cultural references and wordplay into the format. The phrase “What in Cremation” and other playful variations emerged, showcasing the internet’s knack for subverting and recontextualizing familiar phrases for comedic effect.

From Niche to Mainstream

The “What in Tarnation” meme’s journey from a niche joke to mainstream recognition was a testament to its widespread appeal. The meme’s popularity crossed internet platforms, inspiring countless iterations, parodies, and even inspiring merchandise. Its catchphrase and imagery became a recognizable symbol of online humor in 2017.


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