Big Chungus' Original Creator Shares The Tale Of His Inception, And How A Nonsensical Joke Became An Online Phenomenon
ack in early 2018, Braden created a seemingly random meme of a chonky Bugs Bunny to share amongst his friends. Coining the image “Big Chungus,” he didn’t think much of it at the time, but little did he know that his humble creation would ultimately evolve into one of the biggest memes of the late 2010s. From original songs to an in-game Fortnite skin and even a cannon named after the meme by the U.S. Army, the virality of Big Chungus can only be explained as yet another absurdist internet joke that transformed into an online sensation. As the original creator of the meme, Braden, who goes by the online handle Gary the Taco, agreed to share the origin story of how he created the meme, and what he thinks of it all these years later. This is the story of Big Chungus, from inside joke to internet phenomenon, straight from Dr. Frankenstein himself.
Q: Hey, Braden. Thanks for joining us. Would you mind kicking things off by telling us more about yourself and what you’ve been up to as of late?
A: Thanks for having me! I guess I could start things off by saying my name is Braden. The name Gary the Taco is from a little cartoon character I drew in 4th grade, and it’s stuck with me ever since I made it my Minecraft name in 2012. I haven’t been up to much because of quarantine other than video games, my favorite being Destiny 2.
Q: So, recently you did a little AMA about how you created Big Chungus. As a truly avant-garde meme of its time, can you give us the full backstory of how you came up with it and where the name came from?
A: This all started on March 20th, 2018, when I was bored in class. I’d say my main inspiration in terms of style would be the “N* in Paris” memes, I found the randomness of them to be hilarious at the time and I wanted to make something in a similar style. I had a picture of fat Bugs Bunny on my phone from a few weeks before and used that as a base. Then, sticking with the idea of randomness, I started to add on things like an “Adults Only” rating, PS4-exclusive content, and the Hello Games logo since, at the time, No Man's Sky had been a disaster of a game. I got the name “Big Chungus” from a meme of a game character named “BigChungus,” and not from Jim Sterling, who I later found out about once the meme got popular. “Featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry Series” was just something else I’d seen before that I felt would be funny on a fake video game meme.
Q: During that timeframe, what level of knowledge did you have about memes and internet culture in general? Would you say you were more of a casual meme consumer or fully immersed in that world?
A: At the time, I was primarily using iFunny for memes, so I wouldn’t say my knowledge of memes was the best, but they still made up most of my personality. I really enjoyed history memes at the time.
Q: After creating it back then, we heard you shared it with some close friends who didn’t quite understand its genius or find it funny. So what was the initial reaction like after sharing it for the first time?
A: The first guy I sent it to didn’t think much of it, but later on, I sent it to someone else along with a few other memes while in a PS4 party chat, and he lost his shit. Big Chungus 2, 3 and the Pre-Sequel were made specifically to make him laugh. Eventually, after four “games,” the joke lost its luster so I just forgot about it.
Q: Then in December that year, you shared it to Reddit for the first time. Where did you first post it, and what was the reception like early on?
A: I actually posted Big Chungus 3 a day before the original meme, but it wasn’t as popular. The next day I posted Big Chungus, thinking it would do better, and it did. The first comment was “Jeez PS4 exclusives are getting good.” Everybody seemed to like the meme and it was pretty well received, but I didn’t think much of it since I’d had posts get more upvotes before.
Q: How soon after that first post did you notice the meme really taking off as Big Chungus fans flocked to his magnificence en masse? What was your reaction to seeing it become a phenomenon online?
A: I saw Big Chungus reposted on r/gamingcirclejerk a few days later, then I saw a 4chan post, and it kept snowballing from there. I was able to google “Big Chungus” and my post would come up as the second result. At that point, all I could really do was laugh at my dumb meme getting bigger and bigger. My friend sent me a Smash Bros. video by a decent-sized YouTuber where the guy playing said “Big Chungus” as he introduced one of the characters. It was pretty surreal in all honesty.
Q: Perhaps the single most important event in the meme becoming an online sensation early on was when someone asked their mom for a copy of the “Big Chungus PS4 game” and she went to GameStop to find it. When did you first see this, and what was your initial reaction?
A: The first time I saw this version of the meme was when one of my friends sent me the Twitter post, which further popularized the meme. My first reaction was to go through the replies and reply to people joking about a sequel with the “official” Big Chungus 2 I had made months prior.
Q: Once Big Chungus was at its peak, did you tell some of your close friends and family about how you created it? How did they react to it?
A: Most of my friends knew I’d made Big Chungus, a lot of people in my school ended up finding out as well. My parents, along with some other people, told me to trademark Big Chungus, which I obviously can't do due to Big Chungus/Bugs Bunny being a Looney Tunes character.
Q: As the meme continued to spread online, it was also reworked into a song that has since been viewed millions of times on sites like YouTube. What are your thoughts on the Big Chungus song?
A: The Big Chungus song by Endigo is the one I see used in memes the most, and my friends will play it in a Discord call to annoy me since I’ve heard it so many times. I prefer “Big Chungus Ooh Nah Nah” from SilvaGunner.
Q: Then in late 2019, Fortnite introduced an in-game “Big Chungus” skin. How did you feel about such a huge game making reference to the meme you originally created?
A: I play Fortnite sometimes (sorry Reddit), so I saw the skin pop up in the item shop. My reaction was a concerned “no fucking way,” since at that point the U.S. Army had named a cannon after Big Chungus and I didn’t think it could get any bigger than that. And if anyone was wondering, yes, I have the skin.
Q: The /r/bigchungus subreddit was another big evolution of the meme. What sort of involvement did you have with that and did you actively participate in it at all?
A: People let me know about r/bigchungus early on, I started posting there and tried to become a mod. I posted a few memes attempting to catch the other mods’ attention, which it did because one threatened to ban me if I posted another meme asking for mod. Eventually, I did end up banned from the sub when I posted a joke rant (though some of it was actually how I felt) about how big the Big Chungus meme had gotten, and then a comment by me which just said "cub bingus." I guess I was mad at first, but I got over it since it wasn't that important. I was unbanned a few months later even though the ban said it was permanent.
Q: As part of Reddit’s “Great Ban” a few months back, that subreddit was also caught up in the banwave and was one of the more confusing choices to receive the banhammer. What did you make of their decision to ban /r/bigchungus?
A: I was surprised when the sub was banned, but I wasn't sad. The subreddit at that point had somewhat devolved into karma farming and really bad shitposts. I'm pretty sure the post that got it banned was a picture of Big Chungus saying he didn't support trans rights.
Q: While not a majority opinion, some online have claimed the meme was offensive or “fatphobic.” Did you ever address those opinions or views on Big Chungus? What are your thoughts about this sort of characterization?
A: I didn't see that opinion until a few weeks ago, but honestly, I think people look too far into things. Big Chungus isn't a hate symbol or something that should be worshipped as a god, it's genuinely just a fat rabbit on a fake PS4 game.
Q: Did you play a role in building the lore surrounding Big Chungus? If so, what involvement did you have with some of the other versions, such as Small and Medium Chungus?
A: I know that there's Small and Medium Chungus and that their respective subreddits got into a "war" with r/bigchungus, but that's all I really know. I guess to some extent I had a part in creating Small Chungus since he's on the "box art" of some Big Chungus memes I made, but I think for the most part people came up with their own stories.
Q: Big Chungus also eventually evolved into several other derivations, such as Karen Chungus or Ugandan Chungus. Do you have a particular favorite spin-off of your original creation?
A: None of the spin-offs of Big Chungus have really made me laugh that much. When I first saw Karen Chungus, I thought it was an account one of my friends made as a joke, and Ugandan Chungus was made to be bad, even more than Big Chungus itself.
Q: Over the years, what are some of the best and worst messages or reactions you’ve had directed at you over the creation of Big Chungus?
A: I haven't received much hate. In terms of positive reactions though, lots of people tend to PM me thanking me for making their favorite meme, or just variations of the words "Big Chungus."
Q: What about Big Chungus memes, got any favorite versions that you can share? Have you made any other variants yourself?
A: My personal favorite Big Chungus meme is Big Chungus 3. In terms of Big Chungus memes not made by me, my favorite is the "what if it was all just a dream" one, which technically doesn't feature Big Chungus at all.
Q: After everything that’s transpired with Big Chungus since you created it in 2018, do you ever regret his inception? Would you go back and stop yourself from ever sharing him with the world if you could, or do you regret nothing?
A: I like to look at Big Chungus the same way a father looks at his incel son — proud that he’s created life … but disappointed in what it’s become. Even though I may act like I hate Big Chungus when asked about it, I don’t regret posting it. I feel as if I can somewhat embrace the abomination I’ve created, even if it means having to endure people calling things “Wholesome Keanu Chungus 100.”
Braden is the original creator behind the Big Chungus meme. You can check out his Twitter or Instagram if you'd like to see more of what he's up to.
Aug 21, 2020 at 08:44PM EDT
Aug 21, 2020 at 10:16PM EDT
+ Add a Comment
Add a Comment