Some Popular Memes and Their Origin Story

The popularity of memes cannot be expressed in words. Thousands of memes are originating every day but only the most creative and funny ones get to stay in people’s minds.

Photo by Jamie Matociños on Unsplash

Do you know that in 2016, the term ‘meme’ became the most searched term in Google? The word ‘meme’ was first coined in the book of Richard Dawkins named, The Selfish Gene. In that book, the word meme is used to describe a cultural object that multiplies swiftly within and across cultures. Richard Dawkins was the first one to describe the concept of going viral in his book. In this article, we are going to talk about some popular memes of history and will also know about their origin.

Image by DivvyPixel from Pixabay


People find this meme funny but hardly few know the tragedy behind this meme. The ‘Harambe’ meme is based on a gorilla named Harambe who lived in the Cincinnati zoo from 2000 to 2016. Harambe once grabbed and dragged a 3-year old boy who climbed his cage. To quickly save the child, the zoo workers had to shoot Harambe. This act though saved the boy but it sparked huge protests as most people claimed that the boy could have been saved without shooting Harambe. Irrespective of the tragic incident, Harambe still became a very popular meme.

Condescending Wonka

Willy Wonka is an imaginary character from the children’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and its follow-up, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator written by Roald Dahl. However, the meme originated from the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in 1971. The Character of Wonka was played by the late Gene Wilder. According to knowyourmeme, the meme came into existence in 2011, when Redditors captured a screenshot from the film of the moment when Wonka asks the children whether they would like to see the new candy he has been working upon. What made the meme so popular is the creepy look of Wonka with wide eyes and a slight smile.

Image by Please Don’t sell My Artwork AS IS from Pixabay

Squinting Fry

This meme originated from the animated series, ‘Futurama’ which aired from 1999 to 2003. The guy who we see in the meme is the lead character, Philip Jay Fry. Fry was a dull guy who was cryogenically frozen and was awoken 1000 years later in the future. His dull intellect often gets him into confusing situations in the future and this meme is a screengrab from the episode, “The Lesser of Two Evils”. This meme is being used to describe the humorous problems that all people face daily in their lives.

Want to see some more awesome memes? Then you must check out Meme Scout.

Success Kid

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

This meme is based on a boy named Sammy Griner. The meme shows Sammy holding a bunch of sand in his fists. This was a picture clicked by his mom Laney Griner when Sammy was 11 years old and posted it on Getty Images and Flickr. But the image became popular in 2008 when social networkers used Sammy’s image as their profile avatars or image layouts. There is also a wonderful story related to this meme, when Sammy’s father needed a kidney transplant in 2011, Sammy paid for the transplant from the money made from this meme and saved his father’s life.


These are the 4 popular memes of history and their origin story. But this is not all, there are many other popular memes that made their mark in history and they too have their interesting origin story.


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