What does ‘I can has cheezburger’ meme mean? Viral cat trend’s origin explored

The 'I can has cheezburger' is the one meme that started it all (Image via AlistairColeman/Twitter)
The 'I can has cheezburger' is the one meme that started it all (Image via AlistairColeman/Twitter)

The ‘I can has cheezburger’ is an iconic meme that came into being in 2007. You must have seen cute cats eyeing or, better yet, eating their humans’ burgers, hamburgers, or hotdogs — and that is exactly what the meme that paved the way for almost all meme culture that we see lining up on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok today is.

The original meme featured an image of a cat from the British Shorthair breed that appeared to be smiling. According to the website Know Your Meme, the image was sourced from Happy Cats, a Russian cat food company.

In the meme, the image of the smiling cat was superimposed on a blue background with the text “I can has cheezburger,” signifying the feline’s love for all things that had to do with bread buns and cheese. Today, the meme has had a resurgence of its own but let’s dig deeper into the origins of the meme.

How was the ‘I can has cheezburger’ meme created?


Per Know Your Meme, it was on January 11, 2007, when Erik Nakagawa, a blogger from Hawaii, decided to make the iconic meme. While the meme gained rapid popularity that still continues to this day, Nakagawa did not stop there.

Nakagawa and his girlfriend, Kari Unebasami, launched a meme-inspired weblog site that focused on humorous images of cats — which got its own terminology, "lolcats" — and other animals.

The website, called ICHC for short, has become a prime destination for all things animal-related and funny on the wildly spreading world of the internet. The weblog played a huge role in making lolspeak and animal image macros an internet staple.

While the Cheezburger network of sites has grown over the years, the popularity of the original meme has also sustained through the years. More importantly, the memes have evolved.

Let’s take a look at some of the lolcat memes and the way they have evolved:

Some were adorable.

Some were hilarious.

Some were simply sassy.

And it's not just memes. So successful was ICHC’s initial leap in 2007 that, per TIME, the weblog was acquired by a Seattle-based company with a $2 million investment. Based on its origin, the company was called Cheezburger. From there, the company grew to become a network of sites that have made their mark on animal-related humorous content online.

The network now includes sites like ICHC, FAIL blog, MemeBase, Know Your Meme, etc. With a sprawling network of websites, ICHC is a true example of the incredible power of creativity and the internet.

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