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The journey of 'seemingly ranch,' from meme to top of the Empire State Building

Taylor Swift watched the Kansas City Chiefs play at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. At one point she ate a snack and unknowingly set a meme in motion.
David Eulitt
/
Getty Images
Taylor Swift watched the Kansas City Chiefs play at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. At one point she ate a snack and unknowingly set a meme in motion.

The hottest condiment these days isn't ketchup or aioli or even chili oil. It's seemingly ranch.

And that's largely thanks to one person: Taylor Swift. (Heard much about her lately?)

Let's back up.

The pop star sent her fanbase — and much of the internet, frankly — into a tizzy over the weekend when she attended a Kansas City Chiefs game to root for her rumored beau, tight end Travis Kelce.

Pictures and video of Swift decked out in a red Chiefs jacket and cheering excitedly beside Kelce's mom have dominated social media ever since (Kelce jersey sales also spiked nearly 400%). And one behind-the-scenes photo has gone especially viral.

The fan account @twsifterastour shared a picture of Swift posing with a fan in the family's suite, clearly mid-snack. She's sitting at a table with a plate. On it is a chicken tender and two dipping sauces — one red and one white.

"Taylor Swift was eating a piece of chicken with ketchup and seemingly ranch!" the account posted, in an act of admirable journalistic hedging. It's been viewed more than 32 million times.

The tweet went viral almost instantly, sparking costume ideas and pop culture spoofs. Brands from Hidden Valley Ranch (of course) to Van Leeuwen Ice Cream to Lay's to Infiniti got in on the fun too.

New York City's iconic Empire State Building even lit up in red and white on Wednesday night.

And "seemingly ranch" has blossomed from meme to reality in recent days as more companies have started taking it seriously.

Chief among them is Heinz, which announced on Wednesday that it will be releasing limited-edition bottles of Ketchup and Seemingly Ranch in the near future. It has actually been selling Kranch since 2019 (along with other flavor combos including Mayochup and Honeyracha), but the packaging promises to be different.

On Thursday, Primal Kitchen — which has been owned by Heinz since 2018 — went a step further by unveiling a promotion of its own. It's selling 50 limited-edition bottles of Seemingly Ranch and throwing in a Swift-esque friendship bracelet (which fans often make and exchange in the crowd at her concerts) for free.

Here's who else is in now proudly indulging in their seemingly ranch era:

The dictionary

Merriam-Webster, known for its pithy tweets, posted a link to the definition of ranch dress, with an added note: "Seemingly."

Walmart

The retailer got creative with Photoshop, advertising a store aisle dedicated specifically to seemingly ranch.

Mrs. Met

One of the anthropomorphic mascots of the New York Mets recreated Swift's now-iconic photo, shouting out the Citi Field concessions stand.

Garfield

The cartoon cat's official X (formerly Twitter) account shared an illustration of him swiping a piece of chicken — and you'll never guess which condiments — off of Jon's plate.

Arby's

The fast-food chain may be known for its meats, but it couldn't resist promoting its dipping options too.

McDonald's

Social media users pointed out on Thursday that the McDonald's app was promoting a "Definitely McNuggets" deal.

New York casinos

Two casinos in central New York are offering "The Taylor" special this Sunday, Localsyr.com reports. Customers can get seven chicken tenders, a side of ketchup and you-know-what for $8.70, in honor of Kelce's 87 jersey.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.
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