What the internet giveth, the internet can taketh away.
Yes, this modern miracle of technology also known as the “web” can quickly make a savvy individual or “collective” a star. Just look at the public faces reportedly behind Thug Kitchen. Aw, just look at those chagrining widdle faces thrown out to the public:
Uh-oh. My spidey senses are tingling again. Because I couldn’ve sworn I read somewhere this was a “collective” Let me see where I can go to get a bit more information.
But, I digress. The reason for this post is the nay-sayers who still claim they don’t understand why some people are upset.
So understand this. Yes, there is a digital trail. A BIG ONE.
It’s a shame I even need to do this. But some doubters have to be shown visual proof, because just having black folk say it is never enough. No, we not only need video and audio, but names, dates, screen grabs, and then maybe someone will still re-check our work for accuracy.
So here ya go, and welcome to THE VOICE:
Remember this date, Oct 18, 2012, because the “aw shucks, we didn’t really do anything to warrant all this attention” comes into play in the article that put faces to the name:
Thug Life: A Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Masterminds Of Thug Kitchen
Article by Matt Ducor
It began the way millions of other people have made personal websites: with a Tumblr account. And so, Thug Kitchen was born in August 2012 and absolutely no one knew about it. The pair didn’t blast out an announcement over their personal social media channels–they didnt, and still don’t, have any. Thug Kitchen didn’t appear on Eater.com or The Huffington Post. They didn’t even send it to friends or family.
Thug Kitchen was discovered organically by a small number of people through web search and Tumblr. “We’d have ten people on the site at any given time and we’d be like, ‘that’s amazing! We have ten people on our site,'” recalls Holloway. By February of 2013, Thug Kitchen started getting noticed. Instead of seeing that ten viewers on the site at any given time, there were over a hundred. “‘Who did you tell?!'” Holloway remembers asking Davis. “I didnt tell anybody!” It turns out that someone had posted about the sites existence on the massive internet message board Reddit, which accounted for the traffic spike.
. . . Then, in early April, actress Gwyneth Paltrow included a link to Thug Kitchen in her GOOP newsletter, with no other commentary or explanation other than that This might be my favorite thing ever. A few weeks later, she mentioned the blog again during an appearance on The Rachael Ray Show.
The pair had no idea. “We didn’t talk to anybody from her camp, it was a total surprise,” says Davis. “And then traffic goes through the roof–Google analytics crashed!”
Journalist Matt Ducor got the ball rolling, only he didn’t ask any hard hitting questions. Which unfortunately, made the public face of the “collective” ill prepared for the outcry that came next.
But let’s start at the beginning (or at least what the public saw. What the pre-planning phase for all this consisted of, we’ll probably never know):
“look up how much that minute maid shit got inside it. high-fructose corn syrup? naw, son I don’t play that.” – Sept 2012 quote from Tumblr
” . . . Last week I went to the hospital for a flu shot and the doc was all like “Whoa you healthy as fuck, son. Blood pressure is all normal and shit.” and I told him “Like I give a fuck.” and then I paid my co-payment like a fucking boss.” – Sept 16, 2012 quote, again in full digital blackface mode
“good nutrition ain’t just for a thug. . .
I know what you’re thinking, “man, that healthy pet food is mad expensive though” and then I’m gonna ask how much money you spent on your own food just this week alone? then ask if you give a fuck about your pet, because they can’t choose what they eat, you do. personally I’d rather be broke as fuck and have a healthy pet that loves me like cray. money ain’t shit next to that.
My dog is so fucking healthy that when we go to the vet, the vet pays me. real talk.” – Oct 2012 Tumblr
“I’M SO TIRED OF MOTHER FUCKERS asking “Where do you get your protein?” All you simple minded bastards better read up some. I eat shit like whole grains, beans, nuts, lentils, tempeh… I mean hell, where the fuck are YOU getting your protein? Black beans are one of my favorite protein sources for sure. The insoluble fiber these are packing keeps the body feeling full while holding calories down low. But hold up, this shit also has soluble fiber to regulate the fuck out of your glucose levels. So eat more black beans and sign some fucking autographs.” – March 2013 quote from at that time, the singular “Thug”
“No lie, it’s been a while since a thug has been in the kitchen. So I log into the tumblrverse today to check my shit, maybe dust off the dash and get some new content out. Son, I’ve got a TON of fucking messages (I’m going to try to reply to them all, I promise) and I’m seeing my shit posted all over the god damn place.
I’m glad all you healthy/sexy mother fuckers kept the kitchen warm while I was away. I’m officially back and stepping up my game. Seriously, all the love I’ve got from my followers makes me want to post the best content I can for you. Thug Kitchen undergoing reconstruction as of right now. I’m so fucking heated right now. Shit. – ? 2013 quote from whoever is portraying the singular “Thug”
Unlike what the duo revealed in the article that outted them, not only was there a very active Tumblr site, but a Facebook and Twitter page. And this early interview (March 2013) was also done in high gloss caricature:
A chat with Dr. Thug, gangster vegan food blogger
You don’t often see the words “badass” and “vegan cooking” together in the same sentence (or even on the same website), but Dr. Thug is determined to change that. The pseudonymous doctor is the foul-mouthed nutrition buff behind the Thug Kitchen (Motto: “Eat Like You Give A F*ck”), the Internet’s newest (and possibly only) gangster vegan food blog.
Thug Kitchen’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed all contain roughly equal parts nutrition facts, healthy recipes, gorgeous food photography and NSFW language. But beneath his thug demeanor, the doctor’s a nice (though still badass) guy who took a few minutes to have an email chat with the Daily Dot.
As the piece goes on, whoever did the interview lays it on even thicker:
“Don’t believe the hype. Yeah, learning new sh*t takes a f*cking minute. Expect some mistakes. You gotta burn a dish or two, it doesn’t just come together every time. Sh*t, I still f*ck dishes up, but those are the ones my readers don’t hear about. If you make something terrible, you f*cking remember why it came out terrible. Trust. And yeah, cooking does take time but don’t blow that sh*t out of proportion. I don’t spend more than 30-40 minutes cooking a meal and cleaning up. And leftovers mean you don’t have to do that every god damn day. Don’t try to figure out what you are going to make when you are already starving. Just plan your sh*t out.”
“There are so many different ways to make a meal, if I don’t like something I find another way to cook it to change that sh*t up. I use to hate beets, but then one day I marinated them and threw them on the grill. F*cking love beets now. Eating them makes me feel like a grown-up. I will say as far as not letting something in my house, if anyone comes over here with fast food, they can sit outside on the curb and eat that sh*t. They also can’t use my bathroom.”
As more email interviews were published, One UK article proclaimed (pay close attention to the items in bold, which are my doing):
“It’s as if Samuel L Jackson went on a health kick and started a Tumblr. . .
Mystery is apparently one of the most-used ingredients in Thug Kitchen. The LA-based bloggers insist on anonymity, agreeing to be interviewed only via email. Despite the blog’s first-person voice, they tell me, “there are multiple cooks in the kitchen”. They are all vegan, with the exception of one omnivore, who eats “mostly vegan”.
So, here’s a bit more of the timeline on the inception of the “voice” of a collective thug (please note the liberal use of y’all and other slang to complete the transformation).
By this time Tumblr’s not enough, so the website and Facebook show:
“THERE’S SO MUCH GOD DAMN SPINACH in this shit even Popeye can’t hate. Yeah spinach makes you swoll as fuck, we know that. . . Everybody knows I ain’t even fucking playing when it comes to dick cancer, I gotta have my shit in tact . . . So quit that shit. You want to make this shit at home and tell Jamba Juice they can go fuck themselves by not paying for their high calorie sugary shit?”
“I thought we were cool… WHAT THE FUCK SPOON?”
“Well ain’t this some wild shit. Gwyneth Paltrow showing love for TK on Rachel Ray.”
Another interview is granted and “Thug” or his representative is in full digital blackface again (questions posed by the blog site are in italics):
If you’re really a thug, do you get clowned by homies? Because most people don’t associate a healthy diet with thugs.
“Nobody has ever clowned on me after they’ve had my food. If the food tastes good, people shut the fuck up with a quickness.”
Do you think people are going to make better choices when it comes watching what they eat due your site?
“I mean I’m here to entertain and drop some knowledge. If TK can help someone be more comfortable with eating healthy then shit, that’d be dope.
“Do you yourself follow healthy eating habits?
No doubt. About ninety percent of my meals are plant-based but damn if I don’t love me some street tacos. It’s like anything else, moderation is key. It’s not a party if you do it every damn day, ya know?”
In the same interview more bullshit “knowledge” spews forth, such as: “Who says healthy people aren’t hard? Ask Mike Tyson about that shit.”
May 6, 2013
All the fresh herbs piled in here make this a choice dish for spring. If you know how to mash and chop, then this fucker is basically already made. YOU. GOT. THIS.
“We haven’t forgotten about y’all, we’ve been busy as hell finishing up this beast of a cookbook. We’re almost done but we just realized we didn’t include a single goddamn recipe from our site. Matter of fact, EVERYTHING in the book is brand fucking new. So we thought we’ve gotta include at least ONE of our most popular site recipes in the book and we need YOUR help. Below are some of our most popular recipes. Vote for your fav in the comment section and we’ll include it in the book.
“Starting to feel like ninety one thousand damn degrees outside? We got you. Chill the fuck out with a big ass cup of this tropical treat. All you need are five fucking ingredients and a blender. You should be able to handle that shit even if it feels like the world is melting.”
“Oh, did y’all want some book updates? BOOM.” – quote from Facebook
“Y’all flooded our inbox asking for Thug Kitchen merch,” “I was saving this recipe for my upcoming cookbook but you guys said FUCK THAT.” “You might make some friends with this shit here.” “YOU EARNED THAT SHIT” “I will slap that shit out of your hand so quick you won’t know whatthefuck happened.” July 2013
The debut cookbook goal is attained:
“FALL 2014 – EXPECT THAT SHIT” – July 2013 quote
“Whether you let them read my recipe or not, that’s on you.” – quote from August 2013
“OR you can do how I do and build a double boiler like a fucking boss.” Also from August 2013
In celebration of their one year anniversary and in full caricature mode, this is posted, again in August of 2013:
“Today is Thug Kitchen’s one-year anniversary and we want to say thank you. Every day we are slammed with support from people all over the world sharing their appreciation, personal stories, and enthusiasm for good fucking food. It’s inspiring as fuck and to show our gratitude for y’all supporting us we want to give away some shit to help your ass in the kitchen. That’s right. IT’S OUR PARTY AND YOU GET THE FUCKING PRESENTS. How do you like that shit?”
“There were lots of other stories that were so good we’ll have to send y’all some shit even though we couldn’t post your drama.” Sept 2013 quote, both on Tumblr and the Thugkitchen.com site
“Set a timer if your ass is easily distracted like me . . . When the chili looks legit by your standards, add the lemon juice then taste that motherfucker. Depending on the brand of tomatoes you got, you might need to add some brown sugar to balance the taste out. Taste again and see if it needs more chili powder or salt. Throw in some cayenne pepper if you like that shit hot.” quote from Sept of 2013
“I know some of you might be looking at these directions thinkin WHOA THAT LOOKS COMPLICATED AS FUCK. Calm. Your. Shit.” – Tumblr quote, October 2013
“Alright, so you want something sweet, refreshing, and isn’t made by coca-cola? Son, agua fresca is the fucking JAM. Look, all the shit you need is:” – Tumblr, November 2013
“THE.FUCK.IS.THIS.SHIT. Frozen vegetables = vegan meal? Seeing this shit made me so mad that I came home and made acorn squash empanadas from scratch, and guess who ain’t gettin none? Fuck you too, Whole Foods. – November 2013 Tumblr and web site quote
Bogus ethnic “voice” reappears after a brief hiatus on Facebook:
“Damn y’all are quick on the email. ” “HOLY SHIT what kinda hate mail did y’all send to Facebook?” – November 2013 quote
“We haven’t forgotten about y’all, we’ve been busy as hell finishing up this beast of a cookbook. We’re almost done but we just realized we didn’t include a single goddamn recipe from our site. ” – June 2014 quote
Look, we know our website has been basic as hell but guess what? We updated that shit just for y’all. You wanted a search function? Go ahead, search your ass off. Want to bookmark recipes? – Sept 26, 2014 quote just before the shit hit the fan.
Now a mere shell of their former flavorful funky selves (eye-roll for the terrible pun I just made) here’s how they announced a new post:
“Here’s the recipe for Creamy Cauliflower Pasta straight from our book that we cooked up with Rachel Ray on Friday.
Want to enjoy creamy pasta without having to worry about the fucking cholesterol? Puréed cauliflower makes this sauce silky without any of that added bullshit that made you avoid creamy sauces for so long. Feel free to add some stuff like roasted asparagus, steamed broccoli or roasted red peppers to this dish to mix it up.” – October 2014 quote after the story broke
As one former fan of the duo/collective lamented, “it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.” (comment from Jezebel.com)
Fear not, all those faint of heart who still need their stereotypical “thug” fix. Some enterprising soul will swoop in to rescue them, much like a patron did with Paula Deen.
The cookbook may be burnt but money will still be made, just not the sum that could have been collected, son.
To be continued . . .