On the origins of Sad Crab

Every now and then I come across the Sad Crab (aka “This Kills The Crab”) meme, or a reference to it. Like most memes there’s a Know Your Meme page. Their history on the page has changed a few times, but the history is incomplete, at best.

The first link that took it from Gourmet Magazine to the Internet was, well, me.

My mother had given me a gift subscription to Gourmet Magazine, and while reading their article on how to prepare crabs, I thought this one panel was hilariously awful, so of course I posted a scan of it (entitled “sad crab”) to the POE News (an offshoot of Portal of Evil) forums on March 11, 2010. It was hosted at http://beesbuzz.biz/crap/sadcrab.jpg and it became a minor meme there, and from there it got hotlinked to a bunch of other places, including the Spaceghetto image board, and then eventually it got copied and rehosted elsewhere.

It’s also possible that other people found the source image and scanned their own copies, although pretty much every image I’ve seen online has the same printing defects and paper wrinkles from my scan, which seem incredibly unlikely given the way physics works.

Anyway, I had no idea it was a meme until several years later; I was on a forum that was comprised mostly of other Portal of Evil refugees, and we had a reminiscing thread, and I posted the Sad Crab which was still sitting in my /crap/ directory. Someone who wasn’t there in the PoE days said, “Oh, I remember that meme.”

“What meme?”

“This Kills The Crab!”

Somehow I had completely missed my stupid post’s spread as a meme for years. Gourmet Magazine even noticed and tried to cash in on it themselves (to be fair, it was their image to begin with), and what few things had any sort of attribution for it didn’t actually know about the poe-news origin.

The lesson to take from this is that “authoritative” sources on the Internet often have a very short, limited memory of the actual history behind things, and establishing provenance1 is really difficult, and probably not worthwhile anyway.