On its best days, Twitter can be a wild and lawless place. Often driven by the passions of the day and the latest viral trends, things can sometimes get a little, well, weird. The newest viral sensation on Twitter is no exception. With so many twists and turns that you almost need a vision board to track them, Twitter’s Shrimp Tail Cereal Guy story is a doozy – and CELEB is breaking it down for you.
Shrimp Tail Cereal Guy?
If you were one of the lucky ones to find this story in the beginning, then earlier this week you would have seen a Twitter account with the handle @jensenkarp tweet something quite random; “Ummmm @CTCSquares – why are there shrimp tails in my cereal? (this is not a bit).” The tweet is accompanied by an image of some Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal – a popular product by General Mills – with two objects that sure do look like shrimp tails mixed in with the squares. From there, things got pretty strange. The account, appropriately owned by a man named Jensen Karp, continued to fill people in as the saga developed. Karp tagged General Mills and their @CTCSquares account, and received the not-so-reassuring promise that they would look into it and replace the box. Leery and still looking for answers, Karp responded, “Guys – I am not sure I’m ready for another box!!!”
The company contacted Karp by DM and then responded, “After further investigation with our team that closely examined the image, it appears to be an accumulation of the cinnamon sugar that sometimes can occur when ingredients aren’t thoroughly blended. We assure you that there’s no possibility of cross contamination with shrimp.” While we at CELEB don’t consider ourselves experts in shrimp tail appearance, it seems pretty obvious that the objects in Karp’s images are not sugar accumulation. The internet and Karp himself agree, and the nauseous Karp tweeted, “Imagine a universe where I’m like, ‘Yuck. These are shrimp tails.’ Then I re-examine them a few hours later and realize, ‘Nope. These are just accumulations of sugar.’”
From there, General Mills urged Karp to send the object in for examination. At the same time, Karp claims to have discovered what he describes as, “small black objects” baked into the cereal squares. Karp also claims that his wife – and we’ll get to her in a minute – spotted some string in the cereal bag. Clever Twitter followers suggest that these findings may be consistent with a rat having nested in the processing vats at the factory. Doubly disgusted, Karp refused to send both shrimp tails to General Mills for fear they’d bury the story and he’d lose proof. The worried diner then slapped a seatbelt on his box of suspicious cereal and brought it to a lab to be tested. Karp added, “Some updates: I am now in touch with a testing lab re: the ‘black things,’ which I will not yet be calling by any other name for my own sanity. Also, a research company will be paying to DNA test the shrimp tail! (2021, y’all).”
Who is Jensen Karp and How Does He Know Topanga from Boy Meets World?
As the world has followed this shrimp saga along the way, people got curious. Who is Jensen Karp? Remember that wife we mentioned? The wife is none other than Danielle Fishel – the same Danielle Fishel who played the beloved character Topanga on Boy Meets World. But Karp’s claim to fame isn’t only who he married. Aside from being a well-known comedian in Los Angeles, Karp has a surprising past and his fingers in a lot of famous pies.
Vulture reports, “Karp is a TV writer. He has written for WWE Raw, Who Is America?, and is even one of the sick masterminds behind The Masked Singer. Could the shrimp tails have been planted in his cereal because he angered the Big Shrimp lobby since there has not yet been a singing crustacean on The Masked Singer? We’re not ruling it out.
Karp is also the owner of one of those pop-culture ‘art galleries’ that sells expensive fan art of things like Rick & Morty and Stranger Things. Could this all be elaborate performance art? Sure, Karp may or may not have eaten rat crap in his cereal. Marina Abramovic has done weirder.”
And The New York Post shares some background from an unlikely source – Chance the Rapper; “‘Fun fact: the Cinnamon Toast Crunch shrimp guy gave me 5 racks to shoot a video back when I still had a nose ring,’ wrote Chance, 27. A clip posted alongside the tweet shows both men briefly meeting as Karp hands the videographer-cum-rapper a check for $5,000.”
And that’s not all – Karp also performed as a rapper under the name Hot Karl. Per the NYP, “At just 11-years-old, Karp signed onto Ice-T’s Rhyme Syndicate as a promising young emcee. As a teenager, the rapper enrolled in a freestyle competition hosted by Los Angeles’ Power 106 FM, outlasting a record-breaking 45 days in the competition before getting noticed by Interscope Records, which reportedly signed Hot Karl to a million dollar record deal.
Unfortunately, his debut album, ‘Your Housekeeper Hates You,’ featuring a number of guest appearances by well-known hip-hop artists of the time, was never released commercially, and Karp soon left Interscope.”
If rat droppings and food contamination isn’t dark enough for you, hold tight – Karp’s story is about to take a grim turn.
Accusations Emerge about Shrimp Tail Guy
While the internet first reveled in the goofy and horrifying nature of Karp’s story, and memed joyfully about his connection with Topanga – things soon took a dark turn. A number of women from Karp’s past spoke up, and suddenly goofy but unfortunate Shrimp Tail Cereal Guy was no longer a Wednesday distraction – he was an abuser.
The Wrap reports, “But as Karp’s cereal saga continued to spread, women began coming forward with stories of their experiences with him, alleging emotional abuse. On Wednesday, Melissa Stetten tweeted that Karp is ‘a manipulative gaslighting narcissistic ex-boyfriend who once told me he was surprised I hadn’t killed myself because my life was so worthless.’ Stetten did not specify when she and Karp dated.
Shortly thereafter, Stetten responded to her own tweet, saying she had been contacted by other women with similar experiences with Karp. Multiple women quoted or responded to Stetten’s tweet publicly.
Additionally, former colleagues of Karp posted about their time working with him professionally, alleging that Karp had lied to them, stolen from them and generally contributed to a toxic workplace environment.”
Vulture adds, “Actor and writer Rory Uphold also tweeted about her experience with Karp. Comedian Eliza Skinner tweeted, ‘I don’t specifically remember saying ‘I hope he gets poisoned by rats’ as I dumped change into a well, but it definitely sounds like something I would do.’ She later added that she was a head writer for the TBS rap-battle show Drop the Mic, on which Karp was an executive producer. Writer and comedian Brittani Nichols also shared an entire thread in which she outlines her time working for Karp as the only Black writer on Drop the Mic.”
So What’s Happening Now?
Since the accusations have emerged, Karp has gone quiet on Twitter. Alongside the accusations that Karp has been abusive to women in his life, he has been awarded the title of “Milkshake Duck.” A Milkshake Duck is someone who goes viral, and then something unsavory is quickly revealed about them, spoiling the rise.
Vox explains that a Milkshake Duck is less in line with cancel culture where already famous folks are dragged down by their own past behaviors; “The Milkshake Duck is more about instant virality in the age of social media, as well as the growing polarization of publicly professed ideologies. The viral component means anyone can become a public figure overnight — but it also means an increased likelihood of discovering that a new favorite has a checkered past. The phrase implies a sort of grim recognition: Everyone has said and done stupid shit on the internet, and thus anyone could become a Milkshake Duck at any moment.
The Jensen Karp scenario crosses over from ‘overnight internet sensation that turned out to be bad’ into ‘problematic public figure accused of abuse.’ As a comedian, he’s fairly well-known in the Los Angeles comedy community, and the rapidity with which Stetten outed him seemed to be about self-protection and alerting the public to not begin glorifying an alleged abuser. What’s typical of the Milkshake Duck trajectory in Karp’s case is that the broader public remained in the dark about the duck du jour’s dark history.”
With Karp currently mum and the internet rising in support of his accusers, it’s hard to say if we’ll ever know the truth behind the mysterious shrimp tails. However, in trying to tell a story about a gross mystery – Karp did us all a favor by uncovering his own gross history.