Zesty Memes Spice up UCSB

Illustration by Minh Hua

Nkechi Ikem
Staff Writer

UCSB Zesty Meme Cuisine for Horny Teens represents an interesting shift happening among students given that, historically, the UCSB campus has not been known for harboring a strong meme culture in the same way other colleges have.

Avid followers of college meme pages will recognize bigger names like UC Berkeley’s Memes for Edgy Teens, UCLA Memes for Sick AF Tweens, or for the more highbrow, Columbia Buy Sell Memes, and Yale’s Memes for Special Snowflakes Teens.

But for a long time, most UCSB students were given two options: either join and be an outsider to another university’s meme page or scroll UCSB’s Free and For Sale page to find a dramatic post to laugh at.

Last year, four freshmen — Anthony Nguyen, Alvin Bui, Adil Truong, and Andrew Doan — concluded memes were missing from UCSB internet culture and sought to change that by creating their own meme page. They described their journey to bring memes to UCSB in an interview with The Bottom Line.

In the middle of the DLG dining commons during winter quarter, UCSB Zesty Meme Cuisine for Horny Teens was created. As members of the Berkeley page, they saw the power that memes have in uniting a group of people through jokes specific to a campus’ unique atmosphere.

“The memes are very school related so that’s why it’s hard to connect with it if you go to another school,” said Bui, a second year statistics major, about how the UCSB meme page started. “But Berkeley was a big influence.”

They also admit to stealing the word “zesty” from a former UCSB meme page. But Nguyen calls it “innovation” and says that he has made amends with one of the creators of that older page.

At first, UCSB Zesty Memes lacked the popularity it needed to speak to the UCSB populace. The majority of its original members came from Cal. In a Daily Nexus opinion article about UCSB’s almost-nonexistent meme culture, Katherine Chen wrote disappointingly of the page. “The unoriginal content was low effort and the participation was only in the triple digits,” Chen wrote. 

But while it might have been true that the page lacked strong participation last year, it all changed with the Thomas Fire, Nguyen said.

“What really blew our group up was the Thomas fire. Everyone in I.V. was miserable, so we needed a way to make a positive spin on of that,” said Nguyen, a second-year history major, about what brought attention to the UCSB Zesty Meme Page.

Along with the coming-together effect of Thomas Fire, Truong said the page also gained more followers after he announced its creation on the UCSB Free and For Sale page. From then on, the page continues to grow in both membership and post frequency. 

UCSB Zesty Meme Cuisine for Horny Teens now boasts around 11,700 members. Its description reads, “only the zestiest of memes will be accepted.” Because of growing membership, the creators of the page no longer post much. Instead, they mostly monitor and approve of the content that other people submit.

The creators say the criticism that the page has garnered doesn’t affect them much. “Honestly, it’s okay, that’s fine. You can’t have an awesome meme everyday,” said Doan, second-year computer engineering major.

“I think there’s always going to be haters. They can say what they say,” Nguyen agreed.

What’s next for the four creators of the UCSB Zesty Meme Page for Horny Teens? They say they are working on cultivating a University of California-wide meme page.

Right now, it’s called The University of California Premiere Meme Steam, and there are only around 2,000 members. But the page is a much-needed coordination to inspire meme pages at other schools and to encourage the growth of smaller pages like those at UC Irvine and UC Merced.

The creators are also aware that they will graduate someday. For now, they plan to hand the page down to top posters once they graduate.

“With the best meme, you might get the position,” said Truong, a second year computer science major.