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Getting The Milk Memes refers to a series of memes commonly using the cliche of a dad Leaving To Get Milk that turned into a self-deprecating meme trend in 2023 related to being fatherless or abandoned by one's dad. The trend, which has culturally been significant for decades in various jokes and references in pop culture, inspired an entire wave of truthposting and making fun of others online. Though used most often on the internet when relating to fathers, the catchphrase is interchangeable and can be used when any type of abandonment occurs between people.
While the concept of leaving one's family or being abandoned by a parent has been around for decades in pop culture, the well-known television show Punky Brewster (with its first episode airing on September 16th, 1984) was one of the first instances of the trope becoming a mainstream topic of discussion, as well as being prominently referenced in popular culture. In the years following, the phrase and situation grew in commonality, often under the interchangeable phrase of "leaving for milk or cigarettes."
An early instance of the phrase and trope being used online comes from a post by the Twitter / X user @_SeanWick on June 14th, 2013, in which he stated that after watching Taken 2 he imagines that is what happened to his dad when he "left to get milk." The joke in the post stems from a reference to the plot of Taken 2 in which a grown adult is taken, meaning they still have hope that it wasn't their dad just leaving them on purpose (shown below).
The catchphrase and similar variations spread slowly over the next few years, with it also evolving as it became more common. With the belief that someone could leave for years to get milk, the implication of their return is a given, as seen in memes that started to appear in 2014.
For example, on December 18th, 2014, X user @NiggaTarzan uploaded a self-deprecating post in which they uploaded a picture that they said would never exist while claiming that it was of their dad after he came back with the milk (shown below).
Memes relating to the concept of going to get milk or returning back with milk would see a steady rise into 2020, with the joke being repeated more often online. This prevalence led to the October 23rd, 2021, YouTube video by the channel Dapz in which they claim to use math to determine when "your dad is coming back with the milk," earning over 10 million views in two years and helping to spread the phrase in video content (shown below).
In 2023, the joke began to proliferate more on TikTok where different sounds and previously used memes were retooled to work under the "Getting The Milk" punchline.
An example of this comes from TikToker @Majexxty2x who uploaded a Beetlejuice What Are You Doing meme using a green screen to put Beet in the grocery story. This TikTok, uploaded on April 23rd, 2023, and using the caption of them finding their dad at the store 20 years later, earned over 20,000 views in five months (shown below).
@anthony_wehnert My dad left to get some milk #fypシ #milk #dadlife ♬ Night Trouble – Petit Biscuit
Why dads always leave for milk 😂
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