ST. LOUIS — When a tweet goes viral, it really goes viral.
Post-Dispatch reporter Valerie Schremp Hahn tweeted a picture of a funny thing her 9-year-old daughter did. And now there are people reading the Hindustan Times in New Delhi, India, who know about the St. Louis girl who put cheese into an empty lip balm container and brought it to school for a covert snack.
The girl’s universe-altering invention has also been covered online by Time magazine, the Today Show, Mashable, BuzzFeed, George Takei’s website and many, many more.
As of last week, the original tweet had been liked more than 69,000 times. One St. Louis-based tweeter said “Your daughter is living in 2079 and we are all still here in 2019.” Another tweeted “she is the Greta Thunberg of eating cheese.”
Full disclosure: Schremp Hahn is a friend and colleague. She is keeping her daughter’s name private because of “weirdos on the Internet.”
Even more disclosure: The girl and I have a history. A year or so ago, she was naming men at the newspaper she thought were good looking. When asked whether she thought I was attractive, she said no, I just look old.
Still further disclosure: Schremp Hahn wants everyone to know that her daughter did not actually invent the idea herself. She found it on YouTube, or at least a version that put the cheese in an empty glue stick container.
Still, the fact that it was lip balm instead of a glue stick is the whole point. Bringing a tube of lip balm to one’s lips is expected, at least until you bite off the top. But bringing a glue stick to your lips is just plain worrisome.
Despite the fact that she thinks I look old, I called the girl last week. She said she had been watching YouTube “because I was bored,” and found the idea as part of a video showing how to “prank your teacher, or whatever.”
Of all the pranks in the video, the cheese-in-a-tube clicked with her “because I had an empty ChapStick container right next to me, and I was hungry,” she said.
There was “a tiny bit” of lip balm still in the tube, so she cleaned it out with a toothpick, water and soap.
She used a sharp cheddar from Aldi, working the plastic edge of the lib balm tube like a cookie cutter to get it into the container. And yes, the students were allowed to bring a snack because it was standardized test week.
Why did this particular invention strike such a chord — or curd — across the online world? I think it’s because it is just what the Internet craves, something clever yet silly and utterly trivial.
I also think part of the attraction is that it involves cheese, which is quickly becoming the new bacon. That is, everyone has decided it is the world’s most perfect food, and it is becoming a punch line unto itself. The environment is right for comedians to base entire sets on their fondness for cheese.
The Regular Cheese Incident is already paying dividends. Aldi is sending the family some cheese (“I hope it’s enough for a fourth-grade party,” Schremp Hahn said). Kroger is also sending something, and Kraft tweeted an image of their own joke version of the idea, which they called Lip Snackers.
The girl is apparently more than just the Edison of cheese. She has another invention in mind, a squishy pencil, which is a pencil with foam wrapped around it to make standardized testing more comfortable. And it should not be forgotten that was once photographed wearing swim goggles while chopping onions to cut down on crying.
According to her mother, she spent most of our phone interview upside-down on the couch.